Books

David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

David McCullough is widely known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning writing on great leaders and American politics, in books such as Truman and John Adams. In his newest work he turns his focus to Americans abroad in Nineteenth Century Paris.

In this edition of Writers on a New England Stage, McCullough reads from his newest book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, a chronicle spanning generation, and sits down for a conversation about his work, his influences, and America's age-old fascination with The City of Light.

David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

Neil Gaiman is often credited for expanding the audience for comics beyond white, teenage boys with his Sandman series. But he is also a true multi-media phenom, a filmmaker, (now) recording artist, screenwriter for the likes of Dr. Who, and prolific author, including the multi-award winning, groundbreaking novel American Gods.

A new book by George Mason University Economics Chair Tyler Cowen has inspired spirited debate among beltway and economics circles. Published only as an e-book, The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better argues that America's economic growth plateaued in the 1970s. Median wages have stagnated since, he says, because we have eaten all the low hanging fruit that enabled innovation to flourish and average income to grow across the board.

In January, the global food price index rose for the seventh month in a row, reaching the higest level since record keeping began in 1990. Raj Patel is an activist and academic whose book, Stuffed and Starved, predicted the food crisis that caused riots on four continents back in 2008. More recently, his book, The Value of Nothing, argues that we as citizens should rethink our assumptions about rational markets and the very meaning of democracy.

How has technology changed the ways that we interact with one another? Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is the third in a trilogy exploring this question. Social networking, e-mail and texting, Turkle says, provide the façade of socialization but ultimately leave their users dissatisfied and disconnected. It may be time to reflect and reconsider the role we really want technology to play in our lives.

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