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Bruce Feiler '87
At first glance, Bruce Feiler would seem the least likely writer to tackle the Bible. Author of books on his adventures in Japan, Oxford and Cambridge universities, the circus, and Nashville, Feiler had lost touch with his religion. But on a trip to Jerusalem, he viewed the cliff where Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac. The encounter, he wrote, “hit me like a bolt of Cecil B. DeMille lightning. It had never occurred to me that that story—so timeless, so abstract—might have happened in a place that was identifiable.”
That initial epiphany was followed by others at such places as the Dead Sea, Petra, and the Pyramids. “In the Middle East, I realized, the Bible is not some book gathering dust,” says Feiler. “It’s a living, breathing entity unencumbered by the sterilization of time.”
And so the writer was moved to undertake a quest: to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Noah, Moses, and all the other characters of the first five books of the Old Testament. On this pilgrimage, Feiler had a guide—charismatic archeologist Avner Goren—and he met a remarkable group of people, from adventurers bent on finding the precise landing spot of Noah’s ark to scholars attempting to reconcile the Koran and the Bible.
The result is a travelogue rich with details about the landscape, as well as an account of how the journey changes the traveler. The author wanders through the desert, experiencing first-hand how its harshness helped build the spiritual unity of the sojourners. And from Mount Sinai to the Red Sea, Feiler began feeling “the land reaching up to touch me.” As this happened, his point of view shifted and a long-buried spirituality resurfaced. “The questions that were drawing me more were those of symbolism, character, metaphor,” he says. “I was reading the text less as a Baedeker now and more as a Bible. I was reading for meaning.”
Jeffrey E. Garten,
Dean of the School of Management
Two years ago, SOM dean Jeffrey Garten sat down with Leonard Riggio, the chairman and CEO of “bricks and clicks” behemoth Barnes and Noble. Garten was curious about how Riggio thought the business climate was changing. “Everything is in play,” said the executive.
“In those four words he captured the environment in which CEOs operate today—the possibilities, the vulnerabilities, the uncertainties . and the tension between the various jobs that chief executives have to perform,” says Garten.
To understand the rapidly evolving role that corporate leaders are playing in what the dean terms the “third industrial revolution,” Garten interviewed more than three dozen heads of some of the world’s most prominent companies. Among the people he talked to were representatives of traditional firms, such as Hiroshi Okuda, who heads Toyota, and William Clay Ford Jr., chairman of Ford, as well as leaders of new-technology businesses, including Stephen Case, CEO of America Online, and Jorma Ollila, of the Finnish cellular phone company Nokia.
Out of these conversations comes a guided tour of the psyche of the modern CEO and a look at how corporations are dealing with various challenges, particularly those posed by globalization and the Internet. “The online world is going to change everything,” says Kenneth Chenault, the head of American Express.
Many of the CEOs assert that the interconnectedness and access to information the Internet makes possible have fundamentally altered the way companies do business, and this necessitates a new kind of business leadership. In addition to ensuring corporate profitability, CEOs ought to realize that “they should take more responsibility for shaping the environment in which they and everyone else can prosper,” says Garten. “They should be corporate chief executives, but also business statesmen.”
The first surprise in Christiane Bird’s account of her 1998 visit to Iran is that it occurred at all. U.S.-Iranian relations were frosty, but still more daunting to consular authorities was the prospect of a woman traveling alone in the fundamentalist Shi'ite Muslim state on a journalistic mission.
Persistent as well as curious, Bird talked her way past one barrier after another, wielding rudimentary Persian and the stifling rusari and manteau that cover the female figure, and avoiding officialdom with a vengeance. A few brushes with danger enliven the proceedings, but for the most part this is a series of conversations with Iranians, a travelogue with attitudes.
“Before the Revolution,” an Iranian joke proclaims, “we drank in public and prayed in private. Now we pray in public and drink in private.” While strictures have loosened somewhat, this disparity between home and the street colors Iranians’ lives, as people gather secretly to break rules governing dress, makeup, alcohol, drugs, satellite television, and other forms of entertainment.
Private screenings of Madonna and Michael Jackson, as well as some harder-core videos, alternate with visits to the booming cemeteries, where families picnic to honor their teen-age martyrs of the eight-year war with Iraq. Bird observes boarded-over swimming pools, unusable now because of the ban on public bathing, and she chats with university students whose coeducational conversations may not exceed five minutes. An evening in a jazz speakeasy reveals that there are only “three oboe players, three trombone players, and five or six trumpet players” left in all of Tehran. The intrepid author absorbs and explains this and more—including sizeh, a legal temporary marriage, for periods as short as an hour, that is often used by “lonely” clerics during pilgrimages. (Bird receives one such proposal in the holy city of Mashhad.)
Despite all the economic hardships and the desire for more freedom, the Iranians encountered here consistently express basic support for their government. Having lived in Iran as the daughter of an American medical missionary, Bird brings inexhaustible empathy to her task, along with the right dose of erudition.
Marc Ian Barasch '71
“There are dreams, and there are dreams,” says Barasch, a writer with an interest in the mind-body connection. This guided tour of various kinds of dreams argues that they can be far more than simply the nocturnal reshuffling of the mental deck.
Thomas M. Daniel '51
Among the infectious diseases that have plagued humanity throughout our history, tuberculosis has been one of the worst. Medical historian Daniel recounts the stories of six researchers who battled this scourge.
Karl Jacoby '97PhD
The author shows how early conservationists, in attempting to govern the human use of the natural world, locked horns with the rural population.
Gabriella Safran '90
Can art change us? Safran, a professor of Slavic languages, explores that fundamental question of aesthetics through the lens of stories by 19th-century Russian authors who in their fiction examine attempts by Jews to assimilate into the local population.
Richard Selzer, Professor of Surgery (retired)
Selzer, a physician-author in the tradition of Sherwin Nuland, Oliver Sacks, and Lewis Thomas, explores the marriage of science and literature, phantom vision, baldness, brain death, and other topics.
Bob Woodward '65
Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan directs the nation’s economy like the conductor of a somewhat wayward orchestra. Veteran reporter Woodward describes the man behind the baton.
More Books by Yale Authors
Lori Andrews 1975, 1978JD, and Dorothy Nelkin
Edward J. Balleisen 1995PhD
Edward Bliss Jr. 1935
David Bromwich 1973, 1977PhD, Professor of English
Peter Brooks, Chester Tripp Professor of the Humanities
Thad Carhart 1972
George A. Dudley 1936, 1938BFA, 1940MFA
Allen Forte, Battell Professor of the Theory of Music
Elisabeth Gitter 1972PhD
Amihai Glazer 1974PhD and Lawrence Rothenberg
John Hollander, Sterling Professor of English
Alex Kerr 1974
Rogan Kersh 1996PhD
Lance Lee 1967MFA
Mark R. Lee 1971 and Leonard Gross
Quentin Lee 1993MA
Kenneth A. Lockridge 1962, Kevin Berland, and Jan Kirsten Gilliam, Editors
Paul S. Machlin 1968
J. D. McClatchy 1974PhD, Editor, The Yale Review
James McDonald 1937E
Jeffrey Merrick 1979PhD and Bryant T. Ragan, Editors
Marcia Millman 1968GRD
Dan A. Oren 1979BS, 1984MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine
Diana Mendley Rauner 1982
Edward Samuels 1971
Kem Knapp Sawyer 1974
Tom Stempel 1963
Ramie Targoff 1989
Donald F. Theall 1950
Eric Tyson 1984BS and Ray Brown
Keith Wailoo 1984
Jonathan Weinberg 1978, Lecturer, History of Art
Jay Winik 1980, 1993PhD
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