Welcome to Berkeley. We're sending you something that you don't need to figure out, fill out, or even respond to. Every summer, we send new UC Berkeley freshmen a list of books suggested by various people on campus. This is not an "official" list, or even a list of required reading. It's just for you to enjoy as you wish.

This year faculty from all around campus have suggested books about "Great Discoveries, Voyages, and Adventures." You'll see some on the list you might expect to see, like the gripping story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and some that might surprise you, like Stiff, which is, well, read the comments and find out. One discovery that you'll make is that Berkeley faculty are interested in many different aspects of life, and that there are great discoveries, voyages, and adventures to be found everywhere. There is surely a title on this list that you'll enjoy reading. You may find them in bookstores, and all are available in the Berkeley campus libraries.

We hope you'll choose one of these books to read this summer, as a reminder that UC Berkeley is a vital intellectual community that generates and debates fascinating and important ideas-and welcomes opportunities to exercise a sense of humor as well

Elizabeth Dupuis
Instructional Services, The Library

Steve Tollefson
College Writing Programs
Office of Educational Development

Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe
New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
(Norton Critical Edition), 1994

When my son was little and we were living in a place with a rather limited library, I ended up reading the unexpurgated version of Robinson Crusoe to him. Reading it turned out to be an unexpected adventure across time and space. Yes, the familiar shipwreck on the island was there along with Friday and his footprints. But we also read about Crusoe's career as a merchant, his own experience as a slave in the Middle East, and, especially shocking, about how Crusoe sold the fellow slave who helped him escape back into slavery to European slave traders. We learned about the slave trade, plantations, and 18th century ideas about race, Africa, property and religion. We were intrigued by the details of the story that are rarely told these days. What Defoe took for granted was frequently surprising. So read the unexpurgated Robinson Crusoe this summer. It will give you plenty to think about.

Louise Fortmann
Professor and Chair, ESPM Division of Society and Environment

Pompeii: A Novel
Robert Harris
New York: Random House, 2003

This recent novel portrays the adventures of a Roman aqueduct engineer in the days leading up to the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in 79 AD, that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. It is compelling story, well told, and is full of information about Roman civilization, about Roman engineering-especially the great aqueducts that made the cities possible-and about the geology of volcanoes and the threat they pose to people who live close to them. It is an unusual combination of history and geology in a fictional form, helping to bridge the unfortunate gap that has often separated the humanities from the sciences.

Walter Alvarez
Professor, Geology

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Jared Diamond
New York: Viking, 2005

Diamond considers societies that have failed-Polynesians on Easter Island, the Norse in Greenland, the Anasazi in the southwestern U.S., the Maya in Mesoamerica-and compares them with societies that prospered over long periods of time. In many cases the failures resulted from environmental fragility combined with unwillingness of the society to recognize or adapt to the problems until it was too late. A fascinating read with particular relevance to current problems.

Steven Beckendorf
Professor, Genetics and Developmental Biology

Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries, 1913-1914
Edited by Rosemary O'Brien with photographs by Gertrude Bell
Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2000

This book publishes Gertrude Bell's diaries of her expedition through partly unmapped areas of the inhospitable northern Arabian desert from December 1913 to May 1914. The 45-year-old Bell wrote the diaries for Major Charles Doughty-Wylie with whom she was in love. Throughout the journey, she documented the lives of the Arab tribes she encountered and surveyed the land, providing valuable information for the British government on the eve of World War I. Bell has been called the most powerful woman in the British Empire during the first decades of the 20th century. She counseled kings and prime ministers and helped create the boundaries of present day Iraq. These diaries present a small but important chapter in Bell's life, told in her own evocative prose and illustrated with her photographs.

Marian Feldman
Assistant Professor, Near Eastern Studies

The Armada
Garrett Mattingly
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959

Have you ever wondered why Spanish is a second language in North America and not the first? Why the Protestant Reformation succeeded in northern Europe, there are no crucifixes in our public school classrooms, and Garrison Keillor can make Lutheran jokes about Minnesota on A Prairie Home Companion? Why Disneyland has a ride called "Pirates of the Caribbean"? A watershed event determining the world we live in today occurred more than 400 years ago when Philip II of Spain, a king who lived in a monastery and ruled a world empire without telephone, radio, or the internet, sent the greatest naval force in history to overthrow Elizabeth I and Catholicize what was then a much weaker and internally divided England, only to see his great ships straggle home defeated by a small navy that improvised a devastating victory. Mattingly's book recounts the context, which ranges from the Netherlands to the Caribbean to France, introduces the players personally and sympathetically, and tells a story more exciting (even when you know how it comes out!) than any video game.

Michael O'Hare
Professor, Public Policy

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
Nathaniel Philbrick
New York: Viking, 2000

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Mary Roach
New York: W.W. Norton, 2003

In the Heart of the Sea is more than the whale story that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Philbrick studies what it took for New Englanders to venture onto the Pacific Coast of the New World, enduring horrors that fit a Stephen King novel. The book also shows that fear of "the other" (the fabled cannibals of the South Seas) led practical Yankees to folly.

Mary Roach did much of her research on dead bodies in the Bay Area and lives here. But Stiff is a book of discoveries that ranges around the world (the organic composting of loved ones has begun in Sweden). TV's Six Feet Under has the same jaunty approach to the departed, and close students of that HBO series will note characters reading this volume.

These are books FOR the squeamish because Philbrick and Roach are such fine writers that they dismantle our taboos.

Thomas C. Leonard
University Librarian and Professor in the Graduate School of Journalism

Voyage of the Beagle
Charles Darwin
Washington, D.C.:National Geographic Society, 2004 (1909)

Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle is an obvious choice. Young man signs on for a five-year cruise to "find himself" and encounters the natural world in a way that leads to one of the most significant scientific theories in the history of science.

Philip T. Spieth
Professor Emeritus
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

The Informant: A True Story
Kurt Eichenwald
New York: Broadway Books, 2000

Despite the slightly mixed review below, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's an exciting story about an employee of ADM, a firm engaged in price fixing, who serves as an informant for the FBI. As such, the book tells a story that's useful for economics or business students who want to study cartels. The book reads like a thriller and is a fun read because the informant is completely insane and behaves bizarrely and the government agencies engage in extensive in-fighting.

Jeff Perloff
Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze
Peter Hessler
New York: Perennial (HarperCollins), 2002

River Town by Peter Hessler describes his experiences during the time he lived in Fuling, a town on China's Yangtze River, in 1996 as a 26-year-old Peace Corps English teacher. Hessler recounts his interactions with the residents as the first foreigner to live in this part of Sichuan province for 50 years. He pulls the reader into the life of the city, describing his failures and successes as he attempts to understand the culture and his place in the community. Hessler captures the challenges, rewards, and frustrations of teaching-and of learning-as he experiments with classroom activities, analyzes the writings of his students, and reflects on surprising reactions from his students. Hessler also analyzes his own attempts to learn Chinese and his relationship with his teachers. This book stimulates the reader to reflect on education, culture, and community.

Marcia C. Linn
Professor, Graduate School of Education

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
Caroline Alexander
New York: Knopf, 1998

This is the heroic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's failed 1914 attempt, with a crew of 27, to be the first to cross the Antarctic on foot and reach the South Pole. Their ship was crushed in an ice floe, marooning them. They survived over 20 months in brutal antarctic conditions. Not one person died, a testament
to Shackleton's judgment and leadership, including a keen understanding of the personalities of his crew. The story is told drily, but is riveting nonetheless. The spectacular photographs, taken by Frank Hurley, are from glass plates that also survived the expedition, miraculously.

Philip Stark,
Professor, Statistics

The Gene Hunters: Biotechnology and the Scramble for Seeds
Calestous Juma
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989

This is an excellent overview of the quest for new plant materials over the history of civilization. It shows how this quest has affected the course of history, highlighting the roles of national policies and key technical and biological innovations. Reading this book, you will understand why Captain Bligh's sailors were so unhappy, and how Thomas Jefferson became a smuggler. The material on the origins and evolution of the tea market is a treat. The writing is masterly and the material is well-researched.

Brian Wright
Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics

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