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A Year in Tufts Books

Tufts authors produced acclaimed novels, nonfiction, and essays this year -- from a celebrated historical novel to an important new philosophical inquiry. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.22.03] From scientific exposes to social critiques to sophisticated pleasure reading, Tufts authors penned it all this year. Offering their expertise in philosophy, science and literature, the class of top-notch University authors produced titles for every library. Here is a selection of the many Tufts books which received media attention and critical praise this year.

The year started off well with the anticipated release of "Great Neck" - the third book for Tufts' Jay Cantor and a novel Booklist called "a virtuosic work of heart and genius" and "a great singing web of a novel."

"In Great Neck the 54-year-old novelist and Tufts University English professor draws on his Long Island roots to record the tumult of the ‘60s generation," reported New York's Newsday. "The novel follows a circle of friends from privileged Great Neck childhoods into the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements and beyond."

Cantor wasn't the only one earning praise. One of the most acclaimed works of historical literature in 2003, Tufts English Professor Jonathan Wilson's newest novel "A Palestine Affair" also made a mark this year. Set in Palestine nearly 80 years ago, the book combines past and present to create an incendiary mix of religious and political issues that are still very much alive

"'A Palestine Affair' takes us back to that particularly fluid period between the First and Second World Wars, when the British held a provisional mandate from the League of Nations to rule Palestine," reported the Christian Science Monitor. "Though publicly committed to the creation of a Jewish state, Britain was also trying to placate Arab concerns, a diplomatic two-step that was no easier then than it is now."

While Wilson took on the complicated and turbulent subject, renowned Tufts Professor of Philosophy Daniel Dennett tackled a topic equally nuanced and complex: the question of free will. In "Freedom Evolves," Dennett "provides us with fascinating new ways to think about the meaning of choice, the value of morality, and how the evolution of the human brain and its capabilities has made us more free," reported Reason magazine.

"Free will is like the air we breathe, and it is present almost everywhere we want to go, but it is not only eternal, it evolved, and is still evolving," Dennett - whose other books include "Consciousness Explained" (1991) and "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (1995) - wrote in "Freedom Evolves."

Another important inquiry was Sheldon Krimsky's explosive new book "Science in the Private Interest." In the book - which was featured by media outlets nationwide -- the Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy professor explores the relationship between academic science and industry -- which he says is becoming increasingly aligned.

"Studies funded by the private sector tend to produce outcomes that are much more aligned with the financial interests of those sectors than studies funded by the government, etc.," Krimsky told USA Today.

Also in science, Dale Peterson -- a lecturer in Tufts' English department -- addressed an important issue unknown to many: the dwindling population of African apes ravaged by the bushmeat trade. In his chilling account of the black market, hunting, and deforestation, Peterson said that apes may be eaten to extinction by man.

"Today, with the loss of traditional ways in Africa, with the arrival of modern weapons, modern population growth and modern cities, and with the unprecedented opening of African forests by European and Asian timber companies, the consumption of wild animal meat has suddenly exploded ... moving from what was until recently a subsistence activity to become an enormous commercial enterprise," Peterson wrote in "Eating Apes."

Other highlights of this year included Tufts UEP professor James Jennings' "Welfare Reform," lecturer Stephanie Levine's "Mystic, Mavericks, and Merrymakers," professor John Conklin's "Why Crime Rates Fell," Jeffrey Berry's "A Voice for Nonprofits," and "Proactive Parenting: Guiding Your Child From Two to Six" by the faculty of Tufts' Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. All in all, the quality of Tufts books of 2003 should keep readers satisfied well into 2004.

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