American Scripture: The Making of the Declaration of Independence, by Pauline Maier, the William R. Kennan Professor of History, has been named an Editor's Choice by The New York Times Book Review. The Editor's Choice list consisted of only 11 new titles, including works by Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon and John Updike. (See MIT Tech Talk, July 16, 1997).
Professor James H. Williams Jr. of mechanical engineering is OK in the UK.
Professor Williams' book Fundamentals of Applied Dynamics (J. Wiley, 1996), previously quoted favorably in the History of Science in the United Kingdom, received a rave review in the April 1997 edition of The International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education. "I commend it to all who are working in the area of lumped-parameter or continuous systems," wrote Mathematics Professor Alan Davies of the University of Hertfordshire. "I am delighted to have my own copy. I shall strongly recommend my university library to buy a copy. I hope it will be found on the shelves of all UK universities."
The book was recommended to Professor Davies by a student who described it as "the best textbook he had ever seen." Professor Davies agreed wholeheartedly with the student's assessment. "This is a superb textbook," he wrote. "It is written beautifully and the production is first class, with superb diagrams and a layout that is very pleasing to the eye. the eye." In closing, Professor Davies said, "I suspect that there are many MIT students who are indebted to the work of Professor Williams."
Dr. Williams, a professor of applied mechanics, is the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Excellence and a Charles F. Hopewell Faculty Fellow. He is also one of 29 Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellows.
The future of nuclear weapons science and stockpiles is the subject of an ongoing web-based forum sponsorerd by the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS). Participants who visit the site can read background information and offer their views on how to verify the efficacy of US nuclear weapons in light of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty adopted last year by the United Nations.
The discussion follows an on-line debate during October which was moderated by Hugh Gusterson, associate professor of anthropology and science studies in STS. The debate focused on the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program proposed by the Clinton administration.
Sprinkling his talk with references to Aristotle, the Bible, de Tocqueville, Dostoyevsky, Hannah Arendt and Vaclev Havel, among others, Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor Ernesto Cortes discussed "Power Politics and the Revitalization of American Democracy and Civic Culture" on Nov. 25 in Rm 6-120.
Professor Cortes decried the "retreat into the culture of narcissism, the culture of contentment" in our society. "The antidote is to restore vitality to our civic institutions," he said. As the southwest regional director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which trains community organizers, he invoked "the Iron Rule: never, ever do for anyone what he can do for himself."
With both political parties preoccupied with fundraising, presidential elections have been reduced to "quadrennial electronic plebiscites," he said. "They're not about politics; they're about marketing."
This was the first of two Martin Luther King Jr. lectures to be delivered by Professor Cortes, who is in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The second lecture is scheduled for April.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 17, 1997.