Light & Verity

Non-required reading

Books recommended by faculty.

We asked Yale faculty to recommend additions to your postgraduate syllabus. In their own words:

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Jonathan Holloway ’95PhD
Dean of Yale College, Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Vintage, 1992; originally published in 1963). In 2014 we are celebrating what would have been James Baldwin’s 90th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There’s no better way to recognize both than by reading Baldwin’s explosive book. “My Dungeon Shook—A Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation,” the book’s opening essay, is a shocking reminder of the work that remains if we are to become a truly civil society.

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Michael Della Rocca
Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002). This is a riveting work that weaves together the history of philosophy, social history, and biography in the period between the Civil War and World War I in America. Menand lucidly displays the philosophical thought of William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey, and with narrative flair shows how that thought grew out of and shaped the intellectual and social fabric of the time.


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Stephen C. Stearns ’67
Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre (Faber and Faber, 2013). Clearly and entertainingly written, and exceedingly well researched, this is a damning exposé of faulty drug trials, misleading advertising, and the perverse economic incentives that have come to distort medical practice to favor profits over patients.

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