Skip to main content
You are here

New UC Davis-connected books provide food for thought

By Karen Nikos-Rose on December 8, 2015 in University

Want to know how California became the birthplace of the modern conservative movement? Take a ride with words and images down the California coast? Find out how the image of the classic gumshoe came into being? Be part of a uniquely told story about a round-the-globe voyage?

Those are a few of things you can do and learn about in new books from UC Davis faculty, staff and graduates.

Providing both in-depth and accessible takes on many topics, these books by award-winning scholars and writers make perfect holiday gifts.

History, religion, politics and business​

Right Out of California

Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism by Kathryn S. Olmsted (New Press, $27.95, 336 pages). History department chair Kathryn S. Olmsted re-examines the labor disputes in Depression-era California that led California’s businessmen and media to create a new style of politics with corporate funding, intelligence gathering, professional campaign consultants and alliances between religious and economic conservatives.

Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought by David Biale (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 248 pages). David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History, traces the rise of Jewish secularism through the visionary writers and thinkers who led its development. His books include Blood and Belief: The Circulation of a Symbol Between Jews and Christians and Eros and the Jews: From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America.

The Legendary Detective: The Private Eye in Fact and Fiction by John Walton (University of Chicago Press, $25, 232 pages). John Walton, distinguished professor of sociology, offers a sweeping history of the American private detective in reality and myth, from the earliest agencies to the hard-boiled heights of the 1930s and ’40s.

The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace by Eric Rauchway (Basic Books $28.99, 336 pages). History professor Eric Rauchway provides an absorbing narrative showing how President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisers pulled the levers of monetary policy to save the domestic economy and propel the United States to unprecedented prosperity and superpower status.​

Bread from Stones

Bread from Stones: The Middle East & The Making of Modern Humanitarianism by Keith David Watenpaugh (UC Press, $34.95, 272 pages). Watenpaugh, an associate professor in religious studies, analyzes genocide and mass violence, human trafficking and the forced displacement of millions in the Eastern Mediterranean as the background for this exploration of humanitarianism’s role in the history of human rights.

The Audacious Ascetic: What Osama Bin Laden's Sound Archive Reveals About al-Qa'ida by Flagg Miller (Oxford University Press, $34.95, 320 pages). Professor of religious studies Flagg Miller uses bin Laden’s recordings to detail how Islamic cultural, legal, theological and linguistic vocabularies shape militants' understandings of al-Qa’ida. UC Davis Book Talk feature and video.

Sustainable Innovation: Build Your Company’s Capacity to Change the World by Andrew Hargadon (Stanford University Press, 2015). As the Graduate School of Management’s Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship, a professor of technology management, and faculty director of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Andrew Hargadon is at the forefront of teaching, research and practice in cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship. “The most important lesson I learned in my research was the need to look beyond … ‘best practices’ and find the capabilities that will drive sustainable innovations given your strategy and your market conditions,” he wrote in an introduction to an excerpt from his new book. Read the complete introduction and the excerpt in the GSM’s Innovator magazine.


The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky (New York Review Books, $27.95, 336 pages). Sasha Abramsky, a continuing lecturer in the University Writing Program, examines the life of his grandfather Chimen Abramsky and his remarkable collection of books on Jewish life and history, and communism and socialism. For more than 50 years, Chimen and his wife, Miriam, hosted epic gatherings in their house of books that brought together many of the age’s greatest thinkers. Abramsky’s books include The American Way of Poverty and Inside Obama's Brain, and his writing has appeared in The Nation, The American Prospect and The New Yorker (online). UC Davis Book Talk feature and video.


Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing by Sandra M. Gilbert (editor) with Roger J. Porter (editor) (W.W. Norton & Company, $35, 512 pages). Edited by Distinguished Professor of English Emerita Sandra Gilbert, this book gathers food writing of literary distinction and historical sweep. Beginning with the taboos of the Old Testament and the tastes of ancient Rome, and including travel essays, polemics, memoirs and poems, the book is divided into sections such as “Food Writing Through History,” “Hunger Games: The Delight and Dread of Eating” and “Food Politics.” Gilbert is the author of books of criticism, collections of poetry and a memoir, and is recipient of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.


You Must Fight Them (Book cover)

You Must Fight Them by Maceo Montoya (University of New Mexico Press, $19.95, 200 pages). A novella and stories by Maceo Montoya, assistant preofessor, Department of Chicana/o Studies. In You Must Fight Them, a short, bookish, half-Mexican doctoral student returns to his hometown of Woodland and tries to reconnect with Lupita Valdez, the girl he worshipped in high school. First he must come to terms with her three hulking brothers and his own identity.

The Testing Ground — The Cave by Louis Grivetti and Sargent Thurber Reynolds (EditPros LLC, $22.50, 402 pages). Grivetti, a UC Davis professor of nutrition emeritus and widely traveled nutritional geographer, collaborated with Reynolds on this novel that blends science fiction and fantasy for a look into the future. Grivetti’s other books include Chocolate: History, Culture and Heritage, Viet Nam 1993 — A New Beginning and Song of Siwa: The Marzuk Iskander Festival. Learn more about Louis Grivetti.

Creative Sketching Workshop: 20 Sketch Crawl Ideas and Exercises by Pete Scully (North Light Books, $24.99, 176 pages). Pete Scully, graduate coordinator in the Department of Statistics, is an urban sketcher whose new book provides ideas and techniques for those who want capture the world with pen and pencil on pad.

Landfalls by Naomi Williams (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 336 pages). Inspired by a map she purchased, Naomi Williams, a 2010 gradate of the Creative Writing Program, re-creates an actual doomed attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and set in a different part of the world. It is the Davis resident’s first novel. UC Davis Book Talk feature and video.

Photography, prose and poetry​

California’s Wild Edge

California's Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry and History by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder (Heyday Books, $50, 208 pages). This volume captures the beauty of the California coast from Mendocino south to Santa Monica through 80 color prints and illustrations by Killion and prose by Gary Snyder. Snyder is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, author, scholar, cultural critic and professor emeritus of English at UC Davis.

What Comes from a Thing by Phillip Barron (Fourteen Hills Press, $12). Award-winning poetry by Phillip Barron, who works part-time as an analyst in UC Davis Extension’s Human Services division and is a Master of Fine Arts student in creative writing at San Francisco State University. The SFSU Book Series chose Barron’s What Comes from a Thing manuscript as the 2015 recipient of the Michael Rubin Book Award; the annual award comes with a deal by which the honored book is published by Fourteen Hills Press and the SFSU Creative Writing Department. “What Comes from a Thing renders the familiar strange again, and so offers us the rare opportunity to re-encounter what we think we know,” said Laura Walker, author of rimertown/an atlas. Phillip Barron poetry reading: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 First St., Davis, as part of the Andy Jones-hosted Poetry Night Reading Series. Jones is a lecturer in the University Writing Program; associate director of Academic Technology Services; and poet laureate of the city of Davis.

Media contact(s)

Karen Nikos-Rose, Research news (emphasis: arts, humanities and social sciences), 530-219-5472,

Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science, 530-219-8258,

Media Resources