Berkeley 2016 summer reading list

The reading list as recommended by Berkeley faculty
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

by Bryan Stevenson

About the book:  #1 New York Times Bestseller | Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time   Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable BookA powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time   Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.   Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.   Praise for Just Mercy  “Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books   “Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times   “You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review   “Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post   “As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times   “Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer   “Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham   “Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim CrowFrom the Hardcover edition.


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The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic
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The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

by Jessica Hopper

About the book:  Jessica Hopper's music criticism has earned her a reputation as a firebrand, a keen observer and fearless critic not just of music but the culture around it. With this volume spanning from her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly's past, The First Collection leaves no doubt why The New York Times has called Hopper's work "influential." Not merely a selection of two decades of Hopper's most engaging, thoughtful, and humorous writing, this book documents the last 20 years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption. The book journeys through the truths of Riot Grrrl's empowering insurgence, decamps to Gary, IN, on the eve of Michael Jackson's death, explodes the grunge-era mythologies of Nirvana and Courtney Love, and examines emo's rise. Through this vast range of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music. The pieces in The First Collection send us digging deep into our record collections, searching to re-hear what we loved and hated, makes us reconsider the art, trash, and politics Hopper illuminates, helping us to make sense of what matters to us most.


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The Left Hand of Darkness
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The Left Hand of Darkness

by Ursula K. Le Guin

About the book:  When The Left Hand of Darkness first appeared in 1969, the original jacket copy read, "Once in a long while a whole new world is created for us. Such worlds are Middle Earth, Dune—and such a world is Winter."  Twenty-five years and a Hugo and Nebula Award later, these words remain true. In Winter, or Gethen, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a fully realized planet and people. But Gethen society is more than merely a fascinating creation. The concept of a society existing totally without sexual prejudices is even more relevant today than it was in 1969. This special 25th anniversary edition of The Left Hand of Darkness contains not only the complete, unaltered text of the landmark original but also a thought-provoking new afterword and four new appendixes by Ms. Le Guin.When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue—a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of "male" and "female," he may destroy both his mission and himself.


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My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One
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My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One

by Elena Ferrante

About the book:  A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a tetralogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.


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The Little Prince
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The Little Prince

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

About the book:  Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard's translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry's original artwork. Combining Richard Howard's translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories).


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The Sirens of Titan: A Novel
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The Sirens of Titan: A Novel

by Kurt Vonnegut

About the book:  The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell.


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First Confession
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First Confession

by Montserrat Fontes

About the book:  Mexican-American writer Fontes tells a startling tale of the clashes between men and women, rich and poor, Mexican and American in this dark story of life just south of the Texas border. Two spoiled children, the willful Andrea and her cousin Victor, take up spying and stealing when they discover where the town hooker hides her money. Their theft tragically unleashes a series of events, among them murder and suicide.


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Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia
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Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia

by Janet Wallach

About the book:  Turning away from the privileged world of the "eminent Victorians," Gertrude Bell (1868—1926) explored, mapped, and excavated the world of the Arabs. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence's brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire. In this masterful biography, Janet Wallach shows us the woman behind these achievements–a woman whose passion and defiant independence were at odds wit the confined and custom-bound England she left behind. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence, Gertrude Bell emerges at last in her own right as a vital player on the stage of modern history, and as a woman whose life was both a heartbreaking story and a grand adventure.


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The Sparrow: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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The Sparrow: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by Mary Doria Russell

About the book:  A visionary work that combines speculative fiction with deep philosophical inquiry, The Sparrow tells the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a scientific mission entrusted with a profound task: to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The mission begins in faith, hope, and beauty, but a series of small misunderstandings brings it to a catastrophic end.   Praise for The Sparrow   “A startling, engrossing, and moral work of fiction.”—The New York Times Book Review   “Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. The Sparrow is one of them.”—Entertainment Weekly   “Powerful . . . The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and intelligence.”—San Francisco Chronicle   “Provocative, challenging . . . recalls both Arthur C. Clarke and H. G. Wells, with a dash of Ray Bradbury for good measure.”—The Dallas Morning News   “[Mary Doria] Russell shows herself to be a skillful storyteller who subtly and expertly builds suspense.”—USA Today


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The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
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The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

by Walter Isaacson

About the book:  Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed The Innovators is a “riveting, propulsive, and at times deeply moving” (The Atlantic) story of the people who created the computer and the Internet.What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail? The Innovators is a masterly saga of collaborative genius destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution—and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens. Isaacson begins the adventure with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page. This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative. For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators is “a sweeping and surprisingly tenderhearted history of the digital age” (The New York Times).


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Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places
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Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places

by John R. Stilgoe,John Stilgoe

About the book:  Outside Lies Magic is a book about the acute observation of ordinary things, about becoming aware in everyday places, about seeing in utterly new ways, about enriching your life unexpectedly.For more than 20 years, John R. Stilgoe has developed and practiced the art of exploring the everyday world around us, where so much lies hidden just beneath the surface, offering uncommon knowledge if we but know what to look for. In this remarkable book, Stilgoe inspires us to become explorers on our own–on foot or on bicycle–and by so doing to reap the benefits of escaping, even temporarily, the traps of our programmed lives."Exploration encourages creativity, serendipity, invention," he writes. And while sharing his insights on how to explore, Stilgoe provides a fascinating pocket history of the American landscape, as striking in its originality as it is revealing. Stilgoe dissects our visual surroundings; his observations will transform the way you see everything. Through his eyes, an abandoned railroad line is redolent of history and future promise; front lawns recall our agrarian past; vacant lots hold cathedrals of potential.From the electrical grid overhead to fences, malls, and main streets, Stilgoe offers a fresh understanding of the links and fractures in our society. After reading Outside Lies Magic, your world will never look the same again.


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The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition
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The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition

by Richard Rhodes

About the book:  Twenty-five years after its initial publication, The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project. From the turn-of-the-century discovery of nuclear energy to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan, Richard Rhodes’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book details the science, the people, and the socio-political realities that led to the development of the atomic bomb.This sweeping account begins in the 19th century, with the discovery of nuclear fission, and continues to World War Two and the Americans’ race to beat Hitler’s Nazis. That competition launched the Manhattan Project and the nearly overnight construction of a vast military-industrial complex that culminated in the fateful dropping of the first bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Reading like a character-driven suspense novel, the book introduces the players in this saga of physics, politics, and human psychology—from FDR and Einstein to the visionary scientists who pioneered quantum theory and the application of thermonuclear fission, including Planck, Szilard, Bohr, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Meitner, von Neumann, and Lawrence. From nuclear power’s earliest foreshadowing in the work of H.G. Wells to the bright glare of Trinity at Alamogordo and the arms race of the Cold War, this dread invention forever changed the course of human history, and The Making of The Atomic Bomb provides a panoramic backdrop for that story. Richard Rhodes’s ability to craft compelling biographical portraits is matched only by his rigorous scholarship. Told in rich human, political, and scientific detail that any reader can follow, The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a thought-provoking and masterful work.


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by Bruce Springsteen

About the book:  A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERThe official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira KnightleyIt is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times–bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing’s royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life, Andrew Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime. The inspiration for a major motion picture starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, Alan Turing: The Enigma is a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution.


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Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (Zone / Near Futures)
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Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (Zone / Near Futures)

by Wendy Brown

About the book:  Neoliberal rationality -- ubiquitous today in statecraft and the workplace, in jurisprudence, education, and culture -- remakes everything and everyone in the image of homo oeconomicus. What happens when this rationality transposes the constituent elements of democracy into an economic register? In Undoing the Demos, Wendy Brown explains how democracy itself is imperiled. The demos disintegrates into bits of human capital; concerns with justice bow to the mandates of growth rates, credit ratings, and investment climates; liberty submits to the imperative of human capital appreciation; equality dissolves into market competition; and popular sovereignty grows incoherent. Liberal democratic practices may not survive these transformations. Radical democratic dreams may not either. In an original and compelling argument, Brown explains how and why neoliberal reason undoes the political form and political imaginary it falsely promises to secure and reinvigorate. Through meticulous analyses of neoliberalized law, political practices, governance, and education, she charts the new common sense. Undoing the Demos makes clear that for democracy to have a future, it must become an object of struggle and rethinking.


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School Days (St.in African Amer.History & Culture)
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School Days (St.in African Amer.History & Culture)

by Patrick Chamoiseau

About the book:  School Days (Chemin-d’Ecole) is a captivating narrative based on Patrick Chamoiseau’s childhood in Fort-de-France, Martinique. It is a revelatory account of the colonial world that shaped one of the liveliest and most creative voices in French and Caribbean literature today. Through the eyes of the boy Chamoiseau, we meet his severe, Francophile teacher, a man intent upon banishing all remnants of Creole from his students’ speech. This domineering man is succeeded by an equally autocratic teacher, an Africanist and proponent of “Negritude.” Along the way we are also introduced to Big Bellybutton, the class scapegoat, whose tales of Creole heroes and heroines, magic, zombies, and fantastic animals provide a fertile contrast to the imported French fairy tales told in school. In prose punctuated by Creolisms and ribald humor, Chamoiseau infuses the universal terrors, joys, and disappointments of a child’s early school days with the unique experiences of a Creole boy forced to confront the dominant culture in a colonial school. School Days mixes understanding with laughter, knowledge with entertainment—in ways that will fascinate and delight readers of all ages.


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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel
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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel

by Ina Rilke

About the book:  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is an enchanting tale that captures the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening. An immediate international bestseller, it tells the story of two hapless city boys exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.


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Essential Keats: Selected by Philip Levine (Essential Poets)
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Essential Keats: Selected by Philip Levine (Essential Poets)

by John Keats

About the book:  From the introduction by Philip Levine:Walter Jackson Bate, in his biography of Keats, has writers, critics, readers, have approached Keats during the last century, on one quality in his writing they have been completely united.They have all been won by an economy and power of phrase excelled only by Shakespeare." This poet whose greatest ambition was to he "among the English poets" is not only preeminent among those of the past, but for well over a century he has continued to be the yardstick by which those who have written poetry in our language can measure their success. He remains a wellspring to which all of us might go to refresh our belief in the value of this art.


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Blindsight
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Blindsight

by Peter Watts

About the book:  The Hugo Award–nominated novel by "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive." ―The Globe and MailTwo months have past since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since―until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who should we send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder and a biologist so spliced with machinery that he can't feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they've been sent to find―but you'd give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them. . . .


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Class: A Guide Through the American Status System
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Class: A Guide Through the American Status System

by Paul Fussell

About the book:  The bestselling, comprehensive, and carefully researched guide to the ins-and-outs of the American class system with a detailed look at the defining factors of each group, from customs to fashion to housing.Based on careful research and told with grace and wit, Paul Fessell shows how everything people within American society do, say, and own reflects their social status. Detailing the lifestyles of each class, from the way they dress and where they live to their education and hobbies, Class is sure to entertain, enlighten, and occasionally enrage readers as they identify their own place in society and see how the other half lives.


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Madame de Pompadour (New York Review Books Classics)
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Madame de Pompadour (New York Review Books Classics)

by Nancy Mitford

About the book:  When Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of Louis XV, no one expected her to retain his affections for long. A member of the bourgeoisie rather than an aristocrat, she was physically too cold for the carnal Bourbon king, and had so many enemies that she could not travel publicly without risking a pelting of mud and stones. History has loved her little better.Nancy Mitford's delightfully candid biography re-creates the spirit of eighteenth-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery. We learn that the Queen was a "bore," the Dauphin a "prig," and see France increasingly overcome with class conflict. With a fiction writer's felicity, Mitford restores the royal mistress and celebrates her as a survivor, unsurpassed in "the art of living," who reigned as the most powerful woman in France for nearly twenty years.


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