spacer spacer spacer
yalealumnimagazine.com   about the Yale Alumni Magazine   classified & display advertising   back issues 1992-present   our blogs   The Yale Classifieds   yam@yale.edu   support us


The Yale Alumni Magazine is owned and operated by Yale Alumni Publications, Inc., a nonprofit corporation independent of Yale University.

The content of the magazine and its website is the responsibility of the editors and does not necessarily reflect the views of Yale or its officers.


Comment on this article

In Print

David Kessler, Dean of the Yale School of Medicine
A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry
PublicAffairs/Perseus Books, $27.50

In October 1990 David Kessler, then the medical director of Albert Einstein Hospital in the Bronx, was offered a substantial promotion. U.S. president George H. W. Bush ’48 nominated him to head the Food and Drug Administration, and when his appointment sailed through Congress, Kessler suddenly found himself heading an organization in trouble that was, he said, “underfunded, understaffed, and demoralized.”

As he labored to put the FDA’s house in order, Kessler soon began attracting national attention with his campaign to “clean up the anarchy in food labeling”—an effort that grabbed headlines when U.S. marshals surrounded a food warehouse and seized 24,000 gallons of orange juice falsely labeled as fresh. “It’s wonderful to see the FDA metamorphosis from a lapdog into a watchdog,” said one commentator.

The agency was about to become an attack dog. In this often riveting book, Kessler documents his quixotic and, though he left the FDA in 1997 to head the Medical School, ongoing crusade against the tobacco industry. The old saw about never wanting to see how sausage and legislation—add regulation to the couplet—are made is amply illustrated in these pages, for as Kessler quickly learned when the FDA team he assembled began to probe the industry, tobacco’s influence in Washington was pervasive and powerful. In protecting its interests, tobacco had never lost.

“The industry seemed invincible,” said Kessler, but the tobacco companies had clearly never tangled with the likes of the FDA commissioner. “He’s like a revival preacher,” said a Philip Morris executive.

Indeed, on these pages Kessler writes with the single-minded intensity of the true believer, and while the reader sometimes wonders whether Kessler ever relaxes, or, for that matter, sleeps, it is clear that the battle demanded self-sacrifice, nerves of steel, and an inordinately thick skin. Kessler’s tack was to demonstrate that the tobacco industry, despite public comments to the contrary, had long known about the addictive properties of nicotine. If the FDA could establish that there was an intent to addict, it could exert regulatory control over the industry.

After combing through thousands of pages of documents, visiting tobacco companies, and talking to a steady stream of informants with cloak-and-dagger code-names such as “Critical,” “PC,” “Veritas,” and, of course, “Cigarette,” Kessler and his team painstakingly assembled the evidence to craft tobacco-control regulations. No sooner were these adopted than they were challenged as unconstitutional, and though the FDA would eventually lose in the Supreme Court, “the world in which the tobacco companies did their business had been fundamentally transformed,” said Kessler. “The FDA’s investigation had changed popular thinking forever.”


Kim Todd ’92
Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America
W. W. Norton, $26.95

When the first colonists set foot on the North American continent, they found an unnerving and alien landscape filled with unfamiliar plants and animals. The prime motivation for many of these pilgrims was to recreate a religious Eden, but at least a few of the travelers were imbued with a more practical streak and a sense of what poet Wallace Stevens called “the ultimate elegance—the imagined land.”

In their imagination, America would be populated with the flora and fauna they grew up with, and they quickly reached back overseas to import the organisms that would make the fields and forests feel like home. “These men had visions, and they wanted to build them out of cells rather than stone,” writes Kim Todd.

In this chronicle of how and why such species as pigeons, honeybees, gypsy moths, brown trout, and sea lamprey were—sometimes deliberately, sometimes by accident—imported to the continent, Todd, an environmental historian, presents tales that range from the remarkable to the poignant. There’s the story of the ubiquitous starling, an English blackbird now found in huge flocks throughout North America. It owes its presence here to a single reference in Henry IV, Part One, and the desire of an eccentric named Eugene Schieffelin to populate the country with every bird mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. Then there’s the depressing account of the decimation of Hawaii’s bird population by the mosquito. Until the 1820s, the islands actually had no mosquitoes, but when whalemen left larvae behind in water barrels, the noxious insects prospered and went on to spread various avian plagues that wreaked havoc on birds that had no natural immunities.

“These tales of exotic species are steeped in sadness. While they appear tales of addition, subtraction is the underlying theme,” writes Todd.

Still, the situation could have been worse, she notes. As the buffalo was hunted almost to extinction, one cattleman looked out over the near empty range and proposed bringing in herds of kangaroos.


William MacLeish ’50
Uphill with Archie: A Son’s Journey
Simon and Schuster, $25

For some children, having a famous parent is a blessing; for others, it is a curse. For William MacLeish, son of the well-known poet, it was a bit of both.

In a memoir that is part homage and part apology, MacLeish, an environmental journalist, attempts to come to terms with his father, who died at age 90 in 1982. It must have been a remarkable upbringing.

MacLeish tells how “Archie,” a graduate of the Class of 1915, came of artistic age in France in the 1920s, a place where the likes of T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway were houseguests. The family returned to the U.S. just ahead of the Depression and bought “Uphill Farm” in Conway, Massachusetts. There, William was born, and since poetry did not pay the bills, his father, then on assignment for Fortune magazine, was often away from home.

“I was desperate for Archie,” says William. “I created an intimacy out of absence.”

The family would be reunited in Washington, D.C., where Archie became Franklin Roosevelt’s Librarian of Congress. There are charming recollections of FDR, Dean Acheson, Felix Frankfurter, Carl Sandburg, and the folksinger Leadbelly, and later there are stories about William’s time at Yale as a member of the Class of 1950 and his service in the Brewster administration during the tension-filled 1960s and 1970s. In addition to easing the University’s passage into coeducation and and through May Day, MacLeish was also instrumental in recruiting writer William Zinsser to edit the Yale Alumni Magazine in the 1970s.

Throughout the book, there is plenty of the father’s poetry—and the son’s angst as he grapples with Archie’s question: “What are we to make of ourselves in the presence of this incomprehensible cosmos?”


Dana Milbank ’90
Smashmouth: Two Years in the Gutter with Al Gore and George W. Bush—Notes from the 2000 Campaign Trail
Basic Books, $26

Dana Milbank’s travels on the presidential campaign trail for the New Republic and then for the Washington Post taught the reporter to savor the low road. The experience also convinced him that “nasty, smashmouth politics” has had a bum rap, says Milbank. “There’s even reason to believe that tough, negative campaigning helps strengthen new leaders, boost creativity in policy-making, and bring reform to government.”

Many people wish it were otherwise, but as Milbank shows in the presidential demise of Bill Bradley and John McCain, as well as in the rollercoaster polling wars between George W. Bush and Al Gore, going negative seems to win votes.

Rather than examine why this might be true, the author instead concentrates on “the human comedy that unfolds behind the news.” Milbank is a master of campaign minutiae, recalling such largely forgotten incidents as Orrin Hatch’s presidential bid and his implicit invitation to George W. Bush to run as his vice president; Gary Bauer’s fall off a stage, frying pan in hand; the orange-shirted teenage shock troops of Steve Forbes; and the fact that Bush communications director Karen Hughes bought her oversized shoes from a supplier for male cross-dressers. In addition, the author covers campaign press food, staff food fights, dirty linen (literally), and sleeping arrangements for the economy- conscious Gore staff. He also probes campaign financing, the art of groveling (“Bush is pandering smarter than Gore is pandering”), and the candidates’ backgrounds.

Smashmouth deals more with the primaries than the election, more with handlers and aides than the elusive presidential hopefuls themselves. Serious themes gradually take shape, nevertheless, as the candidates’ tortoise-and-hare debating story comes to reflect a larger contrast between Gore’s wavering inspirations and the Bush campaign’s hard-nosed management.


Paul Kane ’84
Drowned Lands
University of South Carolina Press, $15.95

A haunting world emerges from the poems of Drowned Lands, the latest winner in the James Dickey Contemporary Poetry Series. Paul Kane writes of experiences in which differences between body and landscape, life and afterlife, and real and mythical are nearly indiscernible. Typical is “At the Terminus,” which shows people disembarking from trains that run along “the third rail of mortality.”

The poem is, at first, a glimpse of everyday life—that is, until Kane writes, “If this is the afterlife, why hurry along the platforms?” The terminus of life is shown to be an extension of the civilization that people have constructed for themselves. The division between life and death is so small that “Everyone’s face here shines with an eclipse of memory in which nothing’s quite recalled and yet everything’s familiar,” says Kane.

The stream of disquiet that flows gently through this book comes not from the events depicted, but from the understated (and nearly nonexistent) emotion with which the people react to the events. It is as if, in Drowned Lands, life is to be merely endured, rather than loved …


Brief Reviews

Thurston Clarke ’68
Searching for Crusoe: A Journey Among the Last Real Islands
Ballantine/Random House, $24.95

The author, a self-confessed “islomane,” travels around the world from Franklin Roosevelt’s Campobello to George Orwell’s Jura to understand the allure that islands have exerted throughout human history.


Georgina Dopico Black ’95PhD
Perfect Wives, Other Women:Adultery and Inquisition in Early Modern Spain

Duke University Press, $19.95
Dopico Black, a scholar of Spanish and Portuguese culture, examines how the bodies and souls of married women became associated with categories separate from anatomy.


Paul Lussier ’81
Last Refuge of Scoundrels: A Revolutionary War Novel
Warner Books, $26.95

Lussier’s debut novel features an unflattering view of the Revolution’s icons as a world-wise hooker and her naïve lover team up with a band of unlikely guerrillas to lead America’s bumbling leaders to victory.


Karla Gottlieb ’88
The Mother of Us All: A History of Queen Nanny, Leader of the Windward Jamaican Maroons
African World Press, $16.95

Although outmanned and outgunned, an 18th-century black leader helped a ragtag army of rebellious slaves resist some of the best-equipped soldiers of the British empire. Historian Gottlieb profiles a nearly forgotten hero.


Caitland Macy ’92
The Fundamentals of Play
Random House, $24.95

There are echoes of Faulkner and The Great Gatsby in this loss-of-innocence novel that traces the post-college fortunes of several friends as each tries to negotiate the gilded world of New York City in the 1990s.


Tom Wolfe ’57PhD
Hooking Up
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $14.95

In this collection of essays, many of them previously published, and a novella, “America’s maestro reporter/novelist” tackles everything from the sexual behavior of teenagers to the literary feud Wolfe has had with Updike, Mailer, and Irving.


More Books by Yale Authors

Jonathan Barnett ’58, ’63MArch, editor
Planning for a New Century: The Regional Agenda
Island Press, $29.95

David E. Bernstein ’91JD
Only One Place of Redress: African Americans, Labor Regulations, and the Courts from Reconstruction to the New Deal
Duke University Press, $39.95

Christiane Bird ’77
Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey through the Islamic Republic of Iran
Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster, $26.95

Georgina M. Dopico Black ’95PhD
Perfect Wives, Other Women: Adultery and Inquisition in Early Modern Spain
Duke University Press, $19.95

Guillermo A. Calvo ’74PhD, Rudi Dornbusch, and Maurice Obstfeld, editors
Money, Capital Mobility, and Trade: Essays in Honor of Robert Mundell
MIT Press, $55

Jim Childress, Chad Floyd, William Grover ’69MArch, Jeffrey Riley ’72BArch, and Mark Simon ’72MArch
The Enthusiasms of Centerbrook
Images Publishing Group, $60

Tom Conner ’85PhD, editor
Andre Gides’s Politics
Palgrave/St. Martin’s Press, $55

John W. Danford ’76PhD
Roots of Freedom: A Primer on Modern Liberty
ISI Books, $19.95

Thomas M. Daniel ’51
Pioneers in Medicine and Their Impact on Tuberculosis
University of Rochester Press, $65

Randy Charles Epping ’83MA
A Beginner’s Guide to the World Economy: Third Edition
Vintage Books, $12

Daniel Esty ’86JD, Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Damien Gerardin, editors
Regulatory Competition and Economic Integration: Comparative Integration
Oxford University Press, $95

Bruce Feiler ’87
Walking the Bible: A Journey By Land through the Five Books of Moses
William Morrow/HarperCollins, $25

Richard Foster ’63BE, ’66PhD, and Sarah Kaplan
Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market—and How to Successfully Transform Them
Doubleday, $27.50

Arthur Galston, Eaton Professor Emeritus of Botany, and Emily Shurr, editors
New Dimension in Bioethics: Science, Ethics, and the Formation of Public Policy
Kluwer Academic Publishers, $110

Jeffrey Garten, Dean, Yale School of Management
The Mind of the CEO
Perseus Press/Basic Books, $25

James Gollin ’53, ’56MA
Pied Piper: The Many Lives of Noah Greenberg
Pendragon Press, $46

Arthur Gordon ’34, Bill Hartfiel ’51, and Don Klassen
Diamonds: Eight Key Qualities That Open the Door to the Splendor of Living
Century Communications, $19.95

Christopher Hoenig ’80
The Problem Solving Journey: Your Guide for Making Decisions and Getting Results
Perseus Publishing, $20

Heyward Isham ’47, editor
Russia’s Fate Through Russian Eyes
Westview Press, $30

Karl Jacoby ’97PhD
Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation
University of California Press, $39.95

Charles E. Lindblom, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics and Political Science
The Market System: What It Is, How It Works, and What to Make of It
Yale University Press, $26

Paul MacAvoy ’60PhD, Williams Brothers Professor of Management
The Natural Gas Market: Sixty Years of Regulation and Deregulation
Yale University Press, $35

J. D. McClatchey ’74PhD, editor
Bright Pages: Yale Writers, 1701–2001
Yale University Press, $50

Jeffrey Merrick ’79PhD and Bryant T. Ragan, editors
Homosexuality in Early Modern France: A Documentary Collection
Oxford University Press, $29.95

Louis Putterman ’80PhD
Dollars and Change: Economics in Context
Yale University Press, $40

Gabriella Safran ’90
Rewriting the Jew: Assimilation Narratives in the Russian Empire
Stanford University Press, $45

Katrin Schultheiss ’84
Bodies and Souls: Politics and the Professionalization of Nursing in France, 1880–1922
Harvard University Press, $49.95

Richard Selzer, Professor of Surgery (retired), School of Medicine
The Exact Location of the Soul
Picador USA, $25

Jonathan Spence ’65PhD, Sterling Professor of History
Treason By the Book
Viking Press, $24.95

Harold H. Tittmann ’51, ’54LLB
The Waldheim Affair: Democracy Subverted
Olin Frederick Publishing, $22.95

Connie Voisin ’86
Cathedral of the North: Poems
University of Pittsburgh Press, $12.95

Jay Winik ’80, ’93PhD
April 1865: The Month That Saved America
HarperCollins, $30



©1992–2012, Yale Alumni Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yale Alumni Magazine, P.O. Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905, USA. yam@yale.edu