From the Reading List: Spring 2024

This selection of books provides a peek into the treasure-trove of scholar publications that have been promoted via the Institute’s social media channels in the past six months. If you’d like to continue hearing about scholar publications, follow us on X or Instagram.


Matthew Hersch

"A  captivating history of NASA’s Space Transportation System—the space shuttle—chronicling the inevitable failures of a doomed design.”

In Dark Star, Matthew Hersch challenges the existing narrative of the most significant human space program of the last 50 years, NASA’s space shuttle. He begins with the origins of the space shuttle, which Hersch explains was built the wrong way, at the wrong time, and for all the wrong reasons. Describing the unique circumstances that led to the space shuttle’s creation by President Nixon’s administration in 1972 and its subsequent flights from 1981–2011, Hersch illustrates how the shuttle was doomed from the start.

Matthew Hersch
Visitor, School of Historical Studies (2021–22)


Tanisha Ford

"An engrossing social history of Mollie Moon, the fundraiser extraordinaire who reigned over the glittering ‘Beaux Arts Ball,’ the social event of New York and Harlem society, for fifty years—a glamorous soiree rivaling today’s Met Gala, drawing America’s wealthy and cultured, both Black and white.”

In Our Secret Society, Tanisha C. Ford brilliantly illuminates a little-known yet highly significant aspect of the civil rights movement—the powerhouse fundraising effort that supported it. The book brings into focus Mollie Moon, who, as the president of the National Urban League Guild, raised millions to fund grassroots activists battling for economic justice and racial equality.

Tanisha C. Ford
Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. and Annette L. Nazareth Member, School of Social Science (2021–22)


Diane Ahl

"An expansive new study that explores the wide breadth of Italian painting in the fifteenth century, introducing groundbreaking approaches and discoveries.”

Challenging the traditional focus on Venice, Florence, and Rome, Painting in Fifteenth-Century Italy: This Splendid and Noble Art traverses the peninsula from north to south and culminates in the global ports of Naples and Sicily. Diane Cole Ahl reappraises the careers and collaborations of painters, some little-known today. With greater frequency than previously imagined, these masters traveled widely to seek professional opportunities and expand their artistic horizons. The book reveals the richness, invention, and dynamic crosscurrents of the century’s art.

Diane Cole Ahl 
Member, School of Historical Studies (2006)


Thomas Fossen

"Political protest is often at least partially about the question of legitimacy. How can we distinguish whether a regime is legitimate, or merely purports to be so?”

Described as "a genuinely new way of looking at fundamental questions in politics," Thomas Fossen's Facing Authority develops a philosophical approach to political legitimacy, interweaving analyses of key concepts (including representation, identity, and temporality) with examples of real-life struggles for legitimacy, from the German Autumn to the Arab Spring. Instead of asking “what makes authorities legitimate?,” Fossen investigates how the question of legitimacy manifests itself in practice.

Thomas Fossen
Member, School of Social Science (2020–21)