16 Great Summer Reads From Grad Center Scholars

July 1, 2021

From their latest books about historical figures both well-known and overlooked, to the hidden histories of New York City's buildings and neighborhoods, to race and the Black experience, these Graduate Center authors have your summer reads covered.

Looking for a good book to expand your mind, deepen your knowledge, or just relax this summer? From their latest books about historical figures both well-known and overlooked, to the hidden histories of New York City’s buildings and neighborhoods, to race and the Black experience, these Graduate Center authors have you covered:

Professor Macaulay with book cover

In Antiquity in Gotham: The Ancient Architecture of New York City, Professor Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (Liberal Studies, Middle Eastern Studies) provides the first in-depth study of New York’s City’s “neo-antique” architecture and explains the little-known histories of these sites – including one across the street from the Graduate Center. 

Nathalie Etoke-book-cover-469 Shades of Black

Professor Nathalie Etoke (French) confronts the paradoxes of race and identity faced by every Black person in her groundbreaking book, Shades of Black, which examines current events ranging from the death of George Floyd to the celebration of icons such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris. 


In his award-winning book, Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, Distinguished Professor David S. Reynolds (English) examines Lincoln through the 19th-century culture in which he lived


Distinguished Professor James Oakes (History), in another look at the 16th president, proposes a new understanding of Lincoln and his views on slavery in his book The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution.


In Restless Enterprise, Professor Katherine Manthorne (Art History) profiles a little-known American figure, artist Eliza Pratt Greatorex, whose story Manthorne says was “deliberately expunged from the record.” 


Alumnus Evan Rapport (Ph.D. ’06, Music) examines the role of race in punk music and the genre’s debt to the blues in Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk.

The Graduate Center, CUNY · ‘Sustainaphrenia’ in New York City: Melissa Checker on The Thought Project

Professor Melissa Checker (GC/Queens; Anthropology, Psychology; Urban Studies) shows why environmental efforts and high-profit redevelopment are often at cross-purposes in her new book, The Sustainability Myth: Environmental Gentrification and the Politics of Justice.

The Graduate Center, CUNY · Ashley Dawson Sees an End to Fossil Fuel Dependence: Give People Power Over Their Electricity

Professor Ashley Dawson (GC/College of Staten Island/English) warns about the dangers of fossil fuels and argues that the transition to renewable energy must not prioritize profit in his book People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons.

The Graduate Center, CUNY · Richard Alba on The Thought Project - Episode 86

Distinguished Professor Richard Alba (Sociology) breaks new ground on how immigration and identity both reinvigorate American society and challenge it in his book The Great Demographic Illusion: Majority, Minority, and the Expanding American Mainstream.

Bestselling author Professor Emeritus David Nasaw (History) tells the story of Jewish and Eastern European exiles after World War II in The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons From World War to Cold War.


Professor Barbara Katz Rothman (Sociology) asserts that the medical industry is nothing short of an imperial power in her book The Biomedical Empire: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic. 


Professor Bianca C. Williams (Anthropology, Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies) co-edited a new book inspired by more than 100 student-led protests during the Movement for Black Lives called Plantation Politics and Campus Rebellions.


In Immigrant Labor and the New PrecariatDistinguished Professor Ruth Milkman (GC/School of Labor and Urban Studies, Sociology) argues that progressives should redirect anger away from foreign-born workers and toward employers and political elites.

Jimmy Carter’s presidency is often considered a failure because he didn’t win re-election, but a new biography, The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter, by Leon Levy Center for Biography Executive Director Kai Bird, finds that it was quite consequential


Distinguished Professor André Aciman (Comparative Literature, French), author of the acclaimed and awarding-winning Call Me By Your Name, has published Homo Irrealisa new collection of essays

Helmreich-queens book cover

And finally, the late Distinguished Professor William Helmreich, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, gives his many readers a last tribute to NYC with his posthumous book, The Queens Nobody Knows: An Urban Walking Guide.

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