Alumni Books

  1. Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan, and the Fate of the American Metropolis

    by Andrew R. Highsmith

    In 1997, after General Motors shuttered a massive complex of factories in the gritty industrial city of Flint, Mich., signs were placed around the empty facility reading, “Demolition Means Progress,” suggesting that the struggling metropolis could not move forward to greatness until the old plants met the wrecking ball. Much more than a trite corporate slogan, the phrase encapsulates the operating ethos of the nation’s metropolitan leadership from at least the 1930s to the present. Throughout, the leaders of Flint and other municipalities repeatedly tried to revitalize their communities by demolishing outdated and inefficient structures and institutions and overseeing numerous urban renewal campaigns — many of which yielded only more impoverished and more divided metropolises. After decades of these efforts, the dawn of the 21st century found Flint one of the most racially segregated and economically polarized metropolitan areas in the nation.

    In one of the most comprehensive works yet written on the history of inequality and metropolitan development in modern America, Highsmith (who earned both his master’s and PhD degrees at U-M) uses the case of Flint to explain how the perennial quest for urban renewal — even more than white flight, corporate abandonment, and other forces — contributed to mass suburbanization, racial and economic division, deindustrialization, and political fragmentation. Challenging much of the conventional wisdom about structural inequality and the roots of the nation’s “urban crisis,” Demolition Means Progress shows in vivid detail how public policies and programs designed to revitalize the Flint area ultimately led to the hardening of social divisions.

  2. The Book of Nonsense (Forbidden Books, Vol. I)

    by David Michael Slater

    This fast-paced young adult adventure story follows a pair of twins who uncover and attempt to stop a centuries-old plot to unravel and re-form the world as we know it — through the discovery and use of the Words of Power from the First Tongue, the language that is rumored to have brought the universe into being. Reviewers have described it as “a meditation on the power of language” and a “cautionary tale about how the words and ideas contained in books can be warped and used for terrible harm in the wrong hands.” It also is a “celebration of the way those same words have potential to do great things in the right hands.” The book is currently being developed for a potential film.

  3. Robert Lowell in Love

    by Jeffrey Meyers

    Robert Lowell was known not only as a great poet but also as a writer whose devotion to his art came at a tremendous personal cost. In this book, his third on Robert Lowell, Jeffrey Meyers examines the poet’s impassioned, troubled relationships with the key women in his life: his mother, Charlotte Winslow Lowell; his three wives — Jean Stafford, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Caroline Blackwood; nine of his many lovers; his close women friends — Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich; and his most talented students, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

    Lowell’s charismatic personality, compelling poetry, and literary fame attracted lovers and friends who were both frightened and excited by his aura of brilliance and danger. He loved the idea of falling in love, and in his recurring manic episodes he needed women at the center of his emotional and artistic life. Each affair became an intense dramatic episode. Though he idealized his loves and encouraged their talents, his frenetic affairs and tortured marriages were always conducted on his own terms. Robert Lowell in Love tells the story of the poet in the grip of love and gives voice to the women who loved him, inspired his poetry, and suffered along with him.

    Author Meyers earned his BA at U-M in 1959.

  4. On this Day in Detroit History

    by Bill Loomis

    Local historian Bill Loomis covers the big events and remarkable stories of life and culture from Detroit’s founding to its recent struggles and rebirth. One day at a time, discover colorful Motor City moments in history spanning more than three centuries. Here’s just a few highlights: On Nov. 5, 1851, Voice of the Fugitive published a letter in support of escaped slaves. On July 3, 1904, Monk Parry became the first monkey to drive a car. on Jan. 16, 1919, the Statler Hotel menu offered whale meat for dinner. And the legendary Steve Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings on Oct. 7, 1986.

    Author Loomis is the author of Detroit’s Delectable Past (2012), Detroit Food (2014), and numerous articles on culinary and social history. His writing has been published in The Detroit News, Michigan History Magazine, New York Times, Hour Detroit, and more. Loomis lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and children.

  5. Is Mommy?

    by Victoria Chang

    In this irreverent, hilarious, and charming picture book, award-winning poet Victoria Chang and celebrated artist Marla Frazee show that all toddlers love their mommies — no matter what.

    It is a joyous ode to hardworking mothers everywhere — who may not always be fun or organized or neat. But do their toddlers love them anyway? Of course! Marla Frazee’s colorful and humorous illustrations bring this simple text — perfect for reading aloud — to vivid life.

    The New York Times Book Review writes: “Is Mommy? lobs an attack on perfectionism. When parenting blogs and social media edit out hot tempers, hangovers, the tedium of groceries, fearful obsessions with death, and eroding body confidence to suggest that parenting is all butterfly cupcakes, quilting projects completed in time for birthdays, and endless nonwage-earning hours spent biking to swimming holes or exploring museums, it can be difficult to remember that the only essential qualities required for parenting are kindness and courage. Chang and Frazee’s playful book reminds a reader that children love well and without reservation….”

    Chang graduated from U-M in 1992.

  6. The Winning Weekend Warrior

    by John Charles Thomas

    This book aspires to enhance the participation, enjoyment, and success of the reader in all sports. It focuses on strategy, tactics, and the “mental game” and is designed for the amateur athlete. It is one of the few sports books written by an actual winning weekend warrior who takes into account the average person’s working schedule, aging process, and wide-ranging skill level.

    Thomas has enjoyed many sports including (in rough chronological order) baseball, badminton, soccer, table tennis, basketball, football, tennis, running, body building, golf, and triathlon. The Winning Weekend Warrior is constructed on the intersection of personal experience in a wide variety of sports, a long career in research and management, and an understanding of cognitive psychology. Links to some of Thomas’ professional writing can be found at

    Thomas attended graduate school at U-M from1967-1971 and earned his PhD in psychology.

  7. The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits From Global Violence and War

    by Marc Pilisuk and Jennifer Achord Rountree

    Acts of violence assume many forms: They may travel by the arc of a guided missile or in the language of an economic policy decision that contaminates drinking water, and they may leave behind a smoldering village or a starved child. The all-pervasive occurrence of violence makes it seem like an unavoidable, and ultimately incomprehensible, aspect of the human world, particularly in a modern era. But, in this detailed and expansive book, authors Pilisuk and Rountree demonstrate otherwise. Widespread violence, they argue, is in fact an expression of the underlying social order, and whether it is carried out by military forces or by patterns of investment, the aim is to strengthen that order for the benefit of the powerful.

    The Hidden Structure of Violence marshals vast amounts of evidence to examine the costs of direct violence, including military preparedness and the social reverberations of war, alongside the costs of structural violence, expressed as poverty and chronic illness. It also documents the relatively small number of people and corporations responsible for facilitating the violent status quo, whether by setting the range of permissible discussion or benefiting directly as financiers and manufacturers. The result is a stunning indictment of our violent world and a powerful critique of the ways through which violence is reproduced on a daily basis, whether at the highest levels of the state or in the deepest recesses of the mind.

    Because of its interdisciplinary approach, The Hidden Structure of Violence will be valuable for scholars and students in a range of fields, but especially psychology, macro-economics, sociology, international relations, history, journalism, peace studies, military science, community development, and social change.

    Author Pilisuk earned his MA at U-M in 1956 and his PhD in 1961. He taught and conducted research at the University until 1965.

  8. The Form of Finite Group Theory

    by Stephen Odaibo

    Group theory is the language in which our natural world is expressed. Everything from Einstein’s theory of relativity to the inner workings of electrons, protons, and quarks are encoded in the language of group theory. This book on finite group theory is a great resource for both undergraduate and graduate students in the mathematical sciences. It will also be found indispensable by anyone serious about acquiring a fundamental understanding of our physical world.

    Author Odaibo graduated from the Medical Retina Fellowship Program at the Kellogg Eye Center in 2015. He has dedicated this math textbook to his undergrad professor and mentor, Dr. James Robert Ward Jr., and all proceeds go to the Dr. James Robert Ward Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

  9. Memoirs of an Agent for Change in International Development

    by Ludwig Rudel

    In this compelling book, Lu Rudel, AM ’65, describes his unique experiences with U.S. foreign economic aid programs during some of the most dramatic international events since World War II. These include Iran after the fall of Mosaddegh (1956-60); Turkey after the military coup of 1960 to the start of the Cuba Missile crisis; India after the death of Nehru (1965-70); and Pakistan following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988. Rudel’s firsthand observations on Iran differ markedly from the description of events commonly espoused by some historians and journalists.

    The author also provides a firsthand account of the political metamorphosis over the past half-century of the “Group of 77” nations as they employed the U.N.’s economic development agencies to press for a “New International Economic Order.” These experiences led him to draw significant lessons about the conduct and effectiveness of foreign aid.