To Fight ISIS, Think like a Star Wars Rebel
To understand hybrid warfare—unconventional ways of fighting that blend standard military force with irregular and cyber tactics—you might analyze the actions of Russia in Ukraine or the Islamic State in the Middle East. Or you could study the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars movies.
Sound crazy? Not according to former Fletcher Dean James Stavridis, F83, F84, who stepped down this past summer, and Colin Steele, F18. In Return of the Jedi, the Rebels must “avoid defeat while looking for an opportunity to deal a surprise blow to their much stronger enemy,” Stavridis and Steele write in their essay “Hybrid Star Wars: Lessons from The Battle of Endor,” which is included in the new anthology Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict. Stavridis and Steele argue that the movie offers lessons for how hybrid forces might pose challenges to the United States and its allies in a galaxy not so far away.
1. They’re patient. The Rebels, still reeling from defeats at Hoth and Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, don’t have the funding to build their own Death Star. So they fall back on the tactics of hybrid warfare: spread out, stay hidden, and wait to take the enemy by surprise.
2. They use spy networks. With one shot at destroying the Death Star before it’s fully operational, the Rebels use their trusty galactic spy network, the Bothans, to gather intelligence. Of course, the Bothans offer equal opportunity espionage, so remember—if you get to the battle and the shield’s already up, “it’s a trap!”
3. They recruit on the fly. The Rebels don’t let personnel shortages slow them down. As if taking a cue from the fishing boats now bolstering the local militia in the South China Sea, the Rebels grab a talented civilian and declare him General Lando Calrissian. It helps confuse the enemy, by the way, that he’s leading the charge not from a military vehicle but a run-down old freighter.
4. They are not always who they appear to be. That thing where they sent Luke, Han, and Leia to the forest moon of Endor in a captured Imperial transport to bring down the Death Star shield? Classic false-flag operation that baffles the enemy.
5. They team up with the locals. Captured by the Ewoks, the Rebels convince the creatures that they’re on the same side. And it turns out that a ragtag group of Ewoks, swinging down from the trees and using slingshots to knock storm troopers off their speeder bikes, is just enough to win a battle against a far superior fighting force.
Birds of a Feather: A Children’s Story of Love, Loss, and What Came Next
Following a young narrator who recounts his relationship with and says goodbye to his grandfather, this simple picture book, written and illustrated by Cambridge couple Tom Crice and Ellen Rakatansky, J87, is for children who are learning to understand and cope with death.
Call Me Anorexic: The Ballad of a Thin Man
In a recent interview, music critic Ken Capobianco, AG83, said the anorexia that struck him at age twenty-one destroyed his career and his love life. But with humor, plot twists, and deep emotion, this novel—perhaps the first to explore the disease from a male perspective—shows that second acts are possible.
Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York
Nonfiction writer Stacy Horn, J78, takes us back in time to explore the colorful but tragic history of Blackwell’s Island. The narrow strip in New York’s East River now known as Roosevelt Island was a prison, hospital, and asylum that once held 1,700 inmates—twice its capacity—in conditions that would today be considered barbaric.
Do Doodlebugs Doodle? Amazing Insect Facts
Mount Holyoke College professor and the author of thirty-three other children’s books Corinne Demas, J68, and her daughter, Artemis Roehrig, answer the question in the title and others—Do bedbugs wear pajamas? Do dragonflies breathe fire?—alongside inviting illustrations by Ellen Shi.
The Doorway God
Harmony Ink Press
This is the second book in a fantasy trilogy from Spencer K. Dimmick, A18, writing under the pen name Tom Early. The book has LGBT heroes but, like his previous work, Aspect of Winter, focuses not on characters’ sexuality but on magic and friendship à la Harry Potter.
Even Urologists Get Kidney Stones: An Essential Guide to Treatment and Prevention
Dr. Evan Goldfischer, A88, was felled by kidney stones after a bout of food poisoning in Thailand. He turned his pain and research into this 149-page guide for sufferers, with clarifying graphics and an easy-to-read magazine-like layout.
Footprints Wings Phantasms
Pacific Raven Press
Like her seven previous books, this poetry collection by Kathryn Waddell Takara, J65, considers suffering, transformation, metaphysical awakening, and parapsychological philosophy.
Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox
University of Nebraska Press
It’s not surprising that this biography of the man who owned the Boston Red Sox for four decades is packed with facts, since its writer, Bill Nowlin, A66, AG80, is vice president of the Society for American Baseball Research and the author of thirty-five-plus other books related to the team. Less expected is that the book—a must-read for Sox fans—is interesting enough to draw in even the casual reader. From details of Yawkey’s early life to the recent accusations of his racism stemming from the team’s resistance to integrate in the 1950s, Nowlin examines how this son of privilege used his money and popularity to take a losing team into the realm of legend.
How Our Bodies Learned
Black Widow Press
This 118-page volume of poetry from Marilyn Kallet, J68, is by turns touching and funny, intimate and political. The titular verse, for example, is not about a passionate affair, but about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, while another, “Passionate,” is about prejudice and civil rights. Each offers a jolt of revelation.
Kissing the Shuttle: A Lyric History
Blackstone River Books
This eclectic history by Mary Ann Mayer, AG87, uses summaries, captioned photographs, and original poems to weave together the stories of New England textile mills, industrialization, the early twentieth-century tuberculosis epidemic, and reform.
The Man I Knew: Herbert Barness in the Press, 1957–1998
Lynda Barness, J71, provides an affectionate look at her father, a real estate developer and “the man who helped build Bucks County,” Pennsylvania, through her own words and annotated press clippings and photographs.
Not Bad for Delancey Street: The Rise of Billy Rose
Brandeis University Press
Billy Rose was so well known in the last century that a 1936 Life magazine article declared him “the country’s No. 1 purveyor of mass entertainment.” Part of the Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life, this book, by Mark Cohen, AG83, is the first comprehensive biography of the nightclub and Broadway theater owner and producer.
O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss & Mourning
Brother-and-sister artists Andrew Fearnside, A93, and Lee Fearnside teamed up with twenty-three writers to mourn celebrities who died in 2016. The pair’s linoleum block prints are a bold accompaniment to poems and essays about stars from Debbie Reynolds to David Bowie.
The Political Sublime
Duke University Press
A scholarly treatise that engages Immanuel Kant’s Analytic of the Sublime by bringing popular culture to bear on examinations of “the natural sublime,” “the racial sublime,” “the nuclear sublime,” and more, this book, by Michael J. Shapiro, A62, will appeal to the philosophically inclined.
The Real Life of the Parthenon
Mad Creek Books
This well-reviewed travelogue and memoir by Patricia Vigderman, G99, in which the author visits the Elgin Marbles and other relics, is an erudite but accessible meditation on “the nested confusions of opposing claims to antiquity’s beautiful objects.”
Splendor Before the Dark
A best-selling author of historical fiction, Margaret George, J64, has written about Cleopatra, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry VIII. In this latest novel, due out in November, she follows Roman emperor Nero as he faces rumors of complicity in the AD 64 fire that destroyed two-thirds of his fabled city.
The Stone Wall Crossing: Abby Whittier’s Journey Through Time
In this young adult book, Alice Schellhorn Magrane, J66, AG74, A90P, sends modern-day teenager Abby Whittier back to Revolutionary New England via a portal in the woods near a centuries-old stone wall. History, romance, coming of age—this novel ticks all the boxes.
Teen Ref: A Good “No Call”
Morgan James Fiction
Philip Struzziero, A02, introduces readers to fifteen-year-old Drew Hennings, who dreams of playing high school and maybe even pro football. When an injury permanently sidelines him, though, Drew becomes a referee.
The Thorns of Freedom: An Exile’s Return to Latvia
After her family fled Russia-occupied Latvia in 1944, author Vaira Paegle, J64, spent almost her entire fifty-six years in the US. But in 1998, seven years after her native land became independent, she returned there and became a member of Parliament and a candidate for president. This is her story
Encompassing murals, works on paper, and a kinetic sculpture, this exhibition by SMFA Professor of the Practice Ethan Murrow is now on view at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is inspired by that area’s natural resources and manufacturing past.
The Lonely Palette
The Improper Bostonian named The Lonely Palette Best Podcast for 2018. In each episode, host Tamar Avishai, AG08, asks passersby about an artwork before delving into the piece’s history, social context, and artistic technique.