BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S NUMBERS: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey By Paul C. Pasles C’90 (Princeton University Press, 2008. $26.95.) Though Penn’s multi-talented founder is not remembered as a math whiz, Pasles argues convincingly that Franklin possessed a strong and inventive mathematical mind. His numerical creations, such as magic squares and circles, “demonstrate a feel for number patterns that is unmatched even among many who dedicate their professional lives to mathematics,” and his arguments against war, slavery, hereditary nobility, and other societal ills often drew on mathematical reasoning. Pasles is an associate professor of mathematical sciences at Villanova University. Buy this book

MIRACLE MAN OF THE WESTERN FRONT: Dr. Varaztad H. Kazanjian, Pioneer Plastic Surgeon By Hagop Martin Deranian D’47 (Chandler House Press, 2007. $39.95.) Sigmund Freud called Varaztad Kazanjian “the magician” for the prosthesis he devised for Freud’s cancerous jaw. It wasn’t the first extraordinary performance by Kazanjian, who fled Ottoman Armenia in 1895, attended Harvard Dental School, became chief of that school’s Prosthetic Dentistry Department—and, during World War I, devised new ways to reconstruct the faces of soldiers who had received horrible wounds on the battlefields of France. Deranian’s biography was published in September on the 60th anniversary of the occasion when, as a Penn dental student, he introduced himself to Kazanjian. Buy this book

RITES OF AUGUST FIRST: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World By J.R. Kerr-Ritchie G’87 Gr’93 (Louisiana State University Press, 2007. $45.00.) On August 1, 1834, the antislavery movement won its first major victory: Slavery was outlawed throughout the British Empire. Rites of August Firstis a cross-cultural exploration of the origins of August First Day, arguably the most important and widely celebrated day in black Atlantic history. Kerr-Ritchie, an associate professor of history at Howard University, examines how emancipation celebrations have contributed to the broader picture of black identity in the Western hemisphere. Buy this book

ETHAN, SUSPENDED By Pamela Ehrenberg C’94 (Eerdmans Books, 2007. $16.00.) Many kids struggle to fit in at school, but eighth-grader Ethan Oppenheimer has an especially hard road to follow. Uprooted from his suburban Pennsylvania home, Ethan becomes the only Caucasian student in his Washington, D.C. school. As he deals with personal differences and his parents’ divorce, Ethan learns about prejudice, acceptance—and himself. Buy this book

A JESUIT OFF-BROADWAY: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life’s Big Questions By James Martin, SJ W’82 (Loyola Press, 2007. $22.95.) As a theological consultant, Jesuit priest James Martin goes behind the scenes of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ new play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Martin’s six-month experience with high-profile cast members—Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Rockwell, and Eric Bogosian, to name a few—help him and the cast gain profound insights into Christian faith, spiritual life, and the world of theater. Buy this book

DÚN AILINNE: Excavations at an Irish Royal Site, 1968-1975 By Susan A. Johnston and Bernard Wailes (Penn Museum, 2007. $100.) Dún Ailinne, a ritual site in County Kildare, Ireland, was excavated by a team of Penn archeologists between 1968 and 1975. This book represents the first full, published report of their findings, from ancient artifacts and biological remains to new insights about how the site was used. The accompanying CD contains dozens of drawings and photos about the excavation team’s findings. Wailes is professor emeritus of anthropology at Penn. Buy this book

THE BOY WHO KILLED CATERPILLARS By Joshua Kornreich C’97 (Marick Press, 2007. $14.95.) Kornreich’s debut novel brings readers into the world of a young boy who struggles to make sense of his parents’ divorce, his father’s sexuality, and the unforgiving world around him. Everyday objects—the backyard tree, the staircase, swimming-pool residue—take on new significance in the eyes of Kornreich’s bluntly sensitive narrator. Buy this book

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