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Holiday book gift ideas from UC Davis authors: Snow White, bats, hip-hop and more

December 12, 2012

Book cover about "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves"

American studies professor Eric Smoodin tells how Walt Disney's classic film impacted contemporary culture.

From Snow White to science fiction, new books by UC Davis authors offer a variety of holiday gift choices.

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by Eric Smoodin (Palgrave Macmillian/British Film Institute, $14.95, 112 pages) — Published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BFI Film Classic Series, this book presents a history of the events that led up to the Snow White film, the trajectory of Walt Disney's career, and the film’s reception throughout the world. It also looks at the story’s impact on contemporary culture. Smoodin, a professor of American studies at UC Davis, based the book on extensive research in materials from the period of the film's production and distribution.

“Annals of the Omega Project — A Trilogy,” by Thomas A. Cahill (EditPros LLC, $19.95, 354 pages) — A UC Davis physicist most recently known for his work analyzing pollutants at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center post 9/11 pens his first fiction. In this science fiction thriller, Cahill unfolds a tale of good conquering evil that begins on a flight from Sacramento to Denver. The story develops further when a UC professor and a group of psychic students form what they call the “Omega Project” to battle evil Coven members who invoke horrifically lethal “feedings” on the minds of their telepathic victims.

“Gold Fever,” by Rachael Long, (Tate Publishing, $11.99, 140 pages) — The first in a planned trilogy, this book introduces children to the benefits of bats through the story of a boy named Jack who befriends a bat after getting lost in the Nevada wilderness. The author, University of California Cooperative Extension adviser in Yolo County, based the book on a story she used to tell her now 16-year-old son on long commutes. Long intends to donate proceeds of book sales to fund bat conservation programs. In describing the book, the publisher writes: “Jack is excited when he gets a pick hammer and mining helmet for his ninth birthday and can help his dad look for gold in the Black Rock Range. But falling into and waking up alone in a cave was never part of the plan.” A second book in the trilogy is due out next summer.

“Better Capitalism: Renewing the Entrepreneurial Strengths of the American Economy,” by Robert Litan and Carl Schramm (Yale University Press, $32.50, 280 pages) — On the heels of the Great Recession and in time for President Obama's second term, the authors offer a recipe for economic growth that builds entrepreneurial strength. The formula calls for, among other things, government reforms (loosening immigration restrictions, altering corporate taxes), changes in university policies (allowing faculty to more easily launch startups) and privatization of certain infrastructure (roads, airports and other public facilities). Currently a professor at Syracuse University, Schramm will be a visiting professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management teaching courses in entrepreneurship beginning in April. Litan is director of research at Bloomberg Government, a Web-based government information service.

 “The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop” by Halifu Osumare (Palgrave Macmillan, $85, 256 pages) — In this book, one of the few U.S.-based experts on global hip-hop explores Ghana, West Africa, where hip-hop music and culture have morphed over two decades into a form of world music called “hiplife.” Drawing on 30 years as a dancer and scholar of black popular culture, the associate professor and director of African American and African Studies at UC Davis investigates hiplife music not merely as an imitation and adaptation of hip-hop, but as a revision of a century-old popular music in Ghana known as “highlife.” As a Fulbright scholar at the University of Ghana at Legon, Osumare researched the effects of hip-hop culture in Ghana’s capital city of Accra.

“German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation” by William W. Hagen, (Cambridge University Press, $28.99, 463 pages) — With 159 illustrations, including new maps, this book provides an interpretive history of the social and political history of German-speaking Europe through four centuries. Hagen, a scholar of modern European history, is an emeritus professor of history at UC Davis.

“José Martí: Images of Memory and Mourning” by Emilio Bejel (New York & London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, $85,186 pages) — Bejel, a distinguished professor of Spanish at UC Davis, explores how visual images of Martí, a 19th century Cuban national hero, have seduced people across ideologies and have figured in Cuban history and culture. Bejel is critical of the ways governments and political and civic groups have exploited this iconography for their own political agendas. A Cuban-born poet, critic and narrator, Bejel is the author of several books on literary and cultural criticism as well as poetry.

“Romanticism and the Question of the Stranger” by David Simpson (University of Chicago Press, $35, 288 pages) — Simpson, the G.B. Needham Distinguished Professor of English at UC Davis, calls to mind post-9/11 and homeland security fears and practices, pointing out that the view of the stranger as the enemy is not new to the early 21st century. Rather, he shows that debates about the stranger loomed large throughout history Simpson also is the author of “9/11: The Culture of Commemoration,” (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

“Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health,” by Joseph Dumit (Duke University Press, $23.95, 280 pages) — Featuring a cover photo of stacks of pill bottles, this book discusses how the pharmaceutical industry has made people feel they are inherently ill and in need of chronic treatment for everything. “Drugs for Life,” says the publisher, “challenges our understanding of health, risks, facts, and clinical trials, the very concepts used by pharmaceutical companies to grow markets to the point where almost no one can imagine a life without prescription drugs.” Dumit is a professor of anthropology and director of Science & Technology Studies at UC Davis.

To keep up with other new books from UC Davis authors and author appearances on campus, subscribe to the UC Davis Stores’ newsletter, published by trade books buyer Paul Takushi (who helped select titles for this list). Send an e-mail to pmtakushi@ucdavis.edu with “newsletter subscribe” in the subject heading. Books by UC Davis authors are also on sale at the bookstore in the “campus authors” section, or can be ordered by calling (530) 752-2944 or e-mailing generalbooks@ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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