By Katherine Duke ’05

America and democracy are the grand ideas occupying the minds of many Amherst authors. Embark upon American Odysseys: A History of Colonial North America, by Timothy J. Shannon and David N. Gellman ’88 (Oxford University Press). Then enjoy a Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900–1910, by Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer, Amherst’s director of foundation and corporate relations (W. W. Norton & Co.). Ira Silver ’91 advises on Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream (CreateSpace), and Ilya Somin ’95 writes of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (Stanford Law Books). Nick Bromell ’72 keeps us in the moment with The Time is Always Now: Black Thought and the Transformation of U.S. Democracy (Oxford University Press), while Mary A. Languirand and Robert F. Bornstein ’81 help us face the future with How to Age in Place: Planning for a Happy, Independent, and Financially Secure Retirement (Ten Speed Press). Michael Wheeler ’65 teaches The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World (Simon & Schuster). Architecture critic Blair Kamin ’79 guides us through The Gates of Harvard Yard (The Nieman Foundation for Journalism), and Peggy Shin ’85 brings on a Deluge: Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont’s Flash Floods, and How One Small State Saved Itself (University Press of New England). In the mood for music? Listen to Missa Charles Darwin: Introitus: Tropus ad Kyrie, composed by Gregory W. Brown ’98 and featuring New York Polyphony (Navona), and The Edenfred Files, by Darryl Harper ’90 (Hipnotic Records).