Beyond Vassar

About Books

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Image of book cover
Love and Other Four-Letter Words
By Carolyn Mackler ’95
Random House, 2000

Carolyn Mackler’s novel Love and Other Four-Letter Words tells the story of a 16-year-old girl trying to deal with momentous changes: her parent’s separation and her subsequent move to a new home, the breaking up of an old friendship, and a growing romance. Although 27-year-old Mackler is safely out of her own teen years, she tackles such pressing concerns of teenagers with familiarity, humor, and insight.

Love and Other Four-Letter Words is the author’s first novel, but it is not her first foray into the young adult market. In the few years since her graduation from Vassar, Mackler has established herself as a freelance writer, primarily focusing on issues of concern to teenagers, particularly girls. She’s authored personal essays, magazine features, and an e-book, on topics including body image and women’s health.

Asked why she’s centered her work on young adults, Mackler says, "I’m absolutely fascinated with adolescence. I love transitions, and change is really the signature thing that happens in the teen years." She adds that adolescence is a particularly rich period for a writer to capture, since detailing the changes a character is undergoing is essential to crafting a story. Says the author, "You have these characters who are experiencing things for the first time. Their sense of independence, of their bodies, of their voices, of sex—they’re all brand new; what could be better to write about? It is so dynamic, and so vital."

Right now, Mackler has no plans to shift her focus away from young people and is currently at work on another young adult novel. "I love this genre," she says, "and I really respect it. And I can see that I reach the audience and can change their lives. I’m totally happy with that."

— Amy Arner Sgarro ’83

After the Cure
Managing Aids & Other Public Health Crises
By Martin A. Levin and Mary Bryna Sanger ’71
University Press of Kansas, 2000

Alarming stories about new pathogens like the Ebola virus or HIV fill the headlines, and scientists are pushed to the limits of their abilities to contain and treat new diseases. Even when they succeed, public health officials then face challenging tests of their own, for discovery of a treatment is not a cure; silver bullets need better delivery systems. That is the message and subject of After the Cure: Managing Aids & Other Public Health Crises.

Authors Levin and Sanger (Sanger is professor of urban policy analysis and management and former dean of the Milano Graduate School at New School University) offer common sense management advice to increase society’s success in dealing with public health crises. Some scientists predict that epidemics are only likely to increase in the future; After the Cure stresses the importance of anticipating obstacles to effective health care delivery in such situations and clearly asserts that in the public health arena, management matters as much as medicine.

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Image of book cover
Making Freedom Pay
North Carolina Freedpeople
Working for Themselves, 1865-1900

By Sharon Ann Holt ’80
University of Georgia Press, 2000

The end of slavery left millions of former slaves destitute throughout the South. In Making Freedom Pay, Sharon Ann Holt, who has taught history, women’s studies, and urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rutgers University, Camden, and Bryn Mawr College, offers readers a glimpse of the lives behind the statistics. Holt reconstructs how freed men and women in tobacco-growing North Carolina worked to secure a place for themselves in this ravaged region and hostile time.

Her microeconomic history of Granville County, North Carolina, drawn extensively from public records, assembles stories of individual lives from the initial days of emancipation to the turn of the century. These highly personalized accounts chart the day-to-day travails and small victories of ordinary people. Although racist terrorism and Jim Crow legislation ultimately worked to undermine their achievements, their stories are nonetheless well worth telling.

American Cities & Technology
Wilderness to Wired City
By Gerrylynn K. Roberts ’67 and Philip Steadman
Routledge, 1999

This volume, one of three in a series of textbooks, explores one of the most fundamental changes in the history of human society: the transition from a rural life to an urban one. Drawing on perspectives and writings from a number of different disciplines—including archaeology, urban history, historical geography and architectural history—the books in the series explore how towns and cities have been shaped by technology and how such technological innovations have been influenced by politics, economics, culture, and the natural environment. Among the topics discussed in American Cities & Technology are the creation of the skyscraper, the automobile age, the relationship between public and private transportation, and the emergence of city planning. New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles are featured, but examples from many other cities are considered as well. Its Vassar author, Gerrylynn Roberts, is a senior lecturer in history and science at The Open University in the United Kingdom.