Selected by American Cultures' Fellows and staff

The Rivers Amazon
Alex Shoumatoff
Sierra Club Books, 1986
"A journalistic introduction to the Amazon today based both on a journey through the Amazon and on field work. It introduces the Amazon as a landscape and as a province of the imagination. This book has a strong sense of writers of the past but also of a contemporary view of Amazon--a view of what it was and what it's becoming."
Candace Slater, Spanish and Portuguese Departments

Revolt of the Cockroach People
Oscar "Zela" Acosta
Straight Arrow Books, 1973
"This autobiographical novel opens in the middle of a violent demonstration with the author disappointed that, because he is a lawyer, the police won't attack him. The novel is based on the true experiences of lawyer/writer Acosta during the trying times of the Chicano Movement and the Viet Nam war. It is hilarious and wild, the kind of novel to enjoy."
Alfred Arteaga, English Department

Border Country, a Novel
Raymond Williams
Chatto and Windus, 1960
"Williams novel is the moving story of an individual coming to grips with cultural change, experienced as the result of social and geographical mobility. Matthew Price has left the rural Welsh community where he grew up in a working-class household and moved to London, where he lives a metropolitan, middle-class life. The novel represents Matthew's attempt to assimilate the experience of his childhood, structured by the values exemplified by his father, with the comparatively different circumstances of his adult life."
Michael Mascuch, Rhetoric Deportment

Dakota Diaspora: Memoirs of a Jewish Homesteader
Sophie Trupin
University of Nebraska Press, 1984
"The life history of an immigrant homesteader to North Dakota at the turn of the century with important insights into the process of her identification with her Jewish heritage."
William Simmons, Center for the Teaching and Study of American Cultures

The Way We Lived: California Indian Reminiscences, Stories and Songs
ed. Malcolm Margolin
Heyday Books (Berkeley), 1981
"Folklore, life histories, memories and anecdotes collected from earlier presentations of California Indians about their lives and experiences on the California frontier."
William Simmons, Center for the Teaching and Study of American Cultures

The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins
Oxford University Press, 1976
"Though this is a science book, Dawkins wants you to read it almost as though it were science fiction. A zoologist, he explains in non-technical language some subtle and complicated ideas about how Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection is central to the study of social behavior. Dawkins discusses major themes in social theory: the concepts of altruistic and selfish behavior, the genetical definition of self-interest, the evolution of aggressive behavior, kinship theory, sex ratio theory, reciprocal altruism, deceit, and the natural selection of sex differences. He hopes to astonish you with the truth that you are merely a survival machine--a robot vehicle blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes."
Ron Choy, Center for the Teaching and Study of American Cultures

Native Realm.  A Search for Self-Definition
Czeslaw Milosz
U.C. Press Paperback, 1981
"This, the autobiography of the Lithuanian poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, is a beautifully written and powerful moral document. It represents vividly Milosz's attempt to make sense of the experience of being an Eastern European in the twentieth century: of having, as Milosz describes it "to gaze into the hells of our century." Despite its particularity, Milosz's experience enables him to articulate and suggest answers to questions shared by individuals in a variety of social and cultural situations. This book is of value to anyone who is sensitive to the personal impact of its history."
Michael Mascuch, Rhetoric Department

The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon.
Suzanne Hecht and Alexander Cockburn
Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc., 1989
"This look at the destruction of the Amazon depicts the ecological consequences of development and the logic of economic and national conquest of the region; Chico Mendez and the indigenous resistance to despoilation of the forests; and includes a critique of well-meaning environmentalists."
Richard Walker, Geography Department

The New California: Facing the 21st Century
Dan Walters
California Journal Press, 1986
"A quick overview of the people and politics of California by California's leading political columnist, this work provides a region by region summary. Walters emphasizes the neglect of the commonwealth by budget-cutting governments and the development of the two-tiered society."
Richard Walker, Geography Department

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