@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

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Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Shelf Life: Books
Cliff Notes: Student life and sports
Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors
Searching for Genghis
Victims of War
Interview with the Chancellor
What's In a Name? The Long Saga of Third College
Spanish Archive
Campus Currents
Clarion Call
Plume Assignment
The Transformation of EBU1
Geckos of the Sea
Blue Whale Blues
Swedish Science Prize
The Measure of a Woman
The Mack 'N Biz
Breathe Plant, Breathe!
Hurt Locker Robots

Shelf Life May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2


Here are a few new and notable faculty books at the UCSD Bookstore.

Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism, by Eli Berman, Economics

“The pious Jihadist, programmed with an ideology of hate to be a human guided missile, or dreaming of virgins in heaven, makes for compelling news broadcasts and emotional sound bites, but in concept does not stand up to scrutiny,” writes Eli Berman, associate professor of economics at UCSD and research director of international security studies at the UC-wide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

Radical religious terrorists are more rational than we’d like to believe, he argues in his book. Religion is rarely the primary motive. And as “altruists,” suicide bombers may have more in common with firefighters willing to lay down their lives for others in their communities.

As noted by the New York Times: “The author is neither a pacifist nor an apologist for terrorists. He says, however, that if we stop looking at them as cartoon characters, we may do a better job of deterring them.”

Berman uses the economics of organizations to approach the question of how it is that religious sects can be so effectively deadly when they turn to terrorism. He draws on parallel research of various radical religious groups—Jewish, Christian and Muslim—to demonstrate that what Hezbollah, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Taiba and
the Taliban have in common is the ability to control defection.

Importantly, many of the most lethal groups build loyalty by means of mutual aid. They provide their communities with schools, clinics, utilities and jobs—an especially powerful tactic when the state repeatedly fails to do so.

Versed, by Rae Armantrout, Literature

Rae Armantrout’s 10th collection of poems, Versed, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the 2009 award from the National Book Critics Circle. Versed is a double collection: the first section plays with vice and versa, the second confronts the poet’s experience with cancer, “shot through,” according to her publisher, “with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking.” Poet and critic Ron Silliman writes in his blog: “Trying to read a book by Rae Armantrout in a single sitting is like trying to drink a bowl of diamonds. … The stones are so hard and their edges so chiseled that the instant you begin they’ll start to rip your insides apart.”

Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State, by Robert Edelman, History

Edelman covers the storied soccer team from its days on the wild fields of pre­revolutionary Russia through the post-Soviet period. In Soviet times, Edelman argues, cheering for Spartak Moscow (as opposed to the army team or Spartak’s great rival, Dinamo, founded by the secret police) was to Russians “a small and safe way of saying ‘no’ to the fears and absurdities of high Stalinism.” Without being in open opposition or ­advocating regime change, it was a way fans could hold onto some of their dignity and independence in the face of the state.

Hysteria: The Biography, by Andrew Scull, Sociology

Psychiatry’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, no longer has an entry for “hysteria.” But there was a time this women’s “disease” was all the rage. Scull’s “sharp and witty” book, writes the New Scientist, “explores the history of a condition that was once practically a fashion statement, so strongly linked was it with breeding and social superiority.” The book—“an utterly enthralling study of medical ideology and sociology,” according to the British Medical Journal—traces hysteria from its origins, to its lurid apex in the 19th century, through to its eventual disappearance.

UCSD Bookstore

Visit the UCSD Bookstore online to purchase these titles and more. Look out for the monthly Alumni Special.

Man reading


Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Guernsey Literary Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich and Caroline Mustill

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

New Moon–Twilight Saga #2 by Stephenie Meyer

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Post-America World by Fareed Zakaria

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

2009 Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy by David N. Gilbert