Arts & Culture


Canzonas Americanas
Derek Bermel ’89, composer

Cantaloupe Music, $15

In this eclectic collection, admirably performed by chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound, Bermel displays his penchant for beginning with a deceptively simple introduction: a lilting fiddle tune, a haunting trumpet note, a baritone singing about (of all things) one fly. But then, through Bermel’s signature layering of complex rhythms, many from South America and Africa, the 12 tracks on the CD take off in unexpected and satisfying directions.


The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography
John J. Collins, the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation

Princeton University Press, $24.95

In 1948, the Yale News Bureau announced that four “unpublished ancient Hebrew manuscripts” had been “brought to light by scholars”—several of them associated with Yale—“in the Holy Land.” Eventually, some 900 documents, many fragmentary and all more than 2,000 years old, would be found in a complex of caves east of Jerusalem. In a fascinating book, Divinity School professor Collins examines both the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the often “acrimonious disputes” surrounding their interpretation.


Harpsichord Music for a Thin Place
Paul Cienniwa ’97MM, ’03DMA

Whaling City Sound, $15

Harpsichordist Cienniwa defines a “thin place” as the “threshold between the ordinary and the spiritual.” The delicate, plucked tones of this instrument, Cienniwa’s sure but understated execution of works by Bach, Rameau, Couperin, and Bell, and the recording’s venue—the St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Massachusetts—all combine to transport the listener to that meditative and soothing locale. Listen to it by the fireside on a dark winter’s night.


Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956
Anne Applebaum ’86

Doubleday, $35

“Before a nation can be rebuilt, its citizens need to understand how it was destroyed in the first place: how its institutions were undermined, how its language was twisted, how its people were manipulated,” writes historian and journalist Applebaum. This sweeping account of how Stalin attempted to reshape the countries of Eastern Europe in his totalitarian image offers, in chilling detail, precisely the historical information that the former Soviet bloc requires to move toward a more democratic future.


Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories
Carlo Rotella ’94PhD

University of Chicago Press, $27.50

“Boxing stories don’t get stale,” writes Rotella, who knows his way around the fight game—in the ring and in the bars. But in this generous collection of new and previously published work, Rotella delivers writing on other topics, from bluesmen to old Christmas gifts. (The book includes two articles that first appeared in these pages: one on the 2004 Yale-Harvard football game, the other on Olympic fencer Sada Jacobson ’06.) These dazzling essays, by a modern master, show no sign of growing stale themselves.

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