The Tailored Brain

Emily Willingham

A candid and practical guide to the new frontier of brain customization

Dozens of books promise to improve your brain function with a gimmick. Lifestyle changes, microdosing, electromagnetic stimulation: just one weird trick can lightly alter or dramatically deconstruct your brain.

In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all shortcut to the ideal mind. Instead, the way to understand cognitive enhancement is to think like a tailor: measure how you need your brain to change and then find a plan that suits it.

In The Tailored Brain, Emily Willingham explores the promises and limitations of well-known and emerging methods of brain customization, including prescription drugs, diets, and new research on the power of your “social brain.”

Packed with real-life examples and checklists that allow readers to better understand their cognitive needs, this is the definitive guide to a better brain. 

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Emily Willingham with Christie Aschwanden

Emily Willingham in conversation with Christie Aschwanden

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Agent Josephine

Damien Lewis

Singer. Actress. Beauty. Spy. During WW2, Josephine Baker, the world's richest and most glamorous entertainer, was an Allied spy in Occupied France. This is the story of her heroic personal resistance to Nazi Germany.

Prior to World War II, Josephine Baker was a music hall diva renowned for her singing and dancing, her beauty and sexuality; she was the most highly-paid female performer in Europe. When the Nazis seized her adopted city, Paris, she was banned from the stage, along with all ‘negroes and Jews’.  Yet, instead of returning to America,  she vowed to stay and to fight the Nazi evil. Overnight she went from performer to Resistance spy. 

In Agent Josephine best-selling author Damien Lewis uncovers this little known history of the famous singer's life. During the years of the war, as a member of the French Nurse paratroopers—a cover for her spying work—she participated in numerous clandestine activities and emerged as formidable spy. In turn, she was a hero of the three countries in whose name she served: the US, the nation of her birth; France, the land that embraced her during her adult career; and Britain, the country from which she took her orders, as one of London’s most closely-guarded special agents. Baker’s secret war embodies a tale of unbounded courage, passion, devotion and sacrifice, and of deep and bitter tragedy, fueled by her own desire to combat the rise of Nazism, and to fight for all that is good and right in the world.  

Drawing on a plethora of new historical material and rigorous research, including previously undisclosed letters and journals, Lewis upends the conventional story of Josephine Baker, revealing that her mark on history went far beyond the confines of the stage. 

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Is Remote Warfare Moral?

Joseph O Chapa

An author with unique credentials of moral philosopher, Predator pilot, and Air Force officer probes the burning issue of remote warfare: is it the right thing to do and, if so, why?

In the 21st century, we have come to rely more on remote warfare—drone strikes, targeted killings, and other tactics—to conduct our military business and avoid sending “boots on the ground.” And targeted killings of Iranian high government official General Qasem Soleimani and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki have caused international outrage. Air Force Officer Joseph Chapa, who also has a doctorate in moral philosophy, takes a big step back and considers the most fundamental question: is it the right thing to do—and if so, why?
 
Chapa considers important moral issues such as:
  • What justifies military violence? Is it just risk? Is it the defense of others?
  • What are the implications of the distance between war and warfighter on questions about courage, loyalty, and military honor?
  • How does remote warfare relate to what we often think of as traditional warfare?
  • What principles should we use to evaluate its morality, especially as the crew applies human judgment in a morally complex combat environment?
We are at a historical inflection point as leading military powers are increasing the use of remote weapons, broadening the scope of targeted killing operations, and turning to artificial intelligence to control their weapons systems. Is Remote Warfare Moral? is an essential read to deal with the complexities of the future of war.

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Atlanta, GA

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

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Streets of Gold

Ran Abramitzky

The facts, not the fiction, of America’s immigration experience

Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse—yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, new evidence is provided about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories, and draw counterintuitive conclusions, including:

  • Upward Mobility: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents – a pattern that has held for more than a century.
  • Rapid Assimilation: Immigrants accused of lack of assimilation (such as Mexicans today and the Irish in the past) actually assimilate fastest.
  • Improved Economy: Immigration changes the economy in unexpected positive ways and staves off the economic decline that is the consequence of an aging population.
  • Helps U.S. Born: Closing the door to immigrants harms the economic prospects of the U.S.-born—the people politicians are trying to protect.
Using powerful story-telling and unprecedented research employing big data and algorithms, Abramitzky and Boustan are like dedicated family genealogists but millions of times over. They provide a new take on American history with surprising results, especially how comparable the “golden era” of immigration is to today, and why many current policy proposals are so misguided.

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The Women's House of Detention

Hugh Ryan

This singular history of a prison, and the queer women and trans people held there, is a window into the policing of queerness and radical politics in the twentieth century.

The Women’s House of Detention, a landmark that ushered in the modern era of women’s imprisonment, is now largely forgotten. But when it stood in New York City’s Greenwich Village, from 1929 to 1974, it was a nexus for the tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people who inhabited its crowded cells. Some of these inmates—Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur—were famous, but the vast majority were incarcerated for the crimes of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of the people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, that percentage was almost certainly higher.

Historian Hugh Ryan explores the roots of this crisis and reconstructs the little-known lives of incarcerated New Yorkers, making a uniquely queer case for prison abolition—and demonstrating that by queering the Village, the House of D helped defined queerness for the rest of America. From the lesbian communities forged through the Women’s House of Detention to the turbulent prison riots that presaged Stonewall, this is the story of one building and much more: the people it caged, the neighborhood it changed, and the resistance it inspired.

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Chicago, IL

Women and Children First

w/ Nicole Pasulka

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Been There, Done That

Rachel Feltman

A rollicking, myth-busting history of sex that moves from historical attempts at birth control to Hildegard von Bingen’s treatise on the female orgasm, demystifying plenty of urban legends along the way.

Roman physicians told female patients they should sneeze out as much semen as possible after intercourse to avoid pregnancy. Historical treatments for erectile dysfunction included goat testicle transplants. In this kaleidoscopic compendium of centuries-old erotica, science writer Rachel Feltman shows how much sex has changed—and how much it hasn’t. With unstoppable curiosity, she debunks myths, breaks down stigma, and uses the long, outlandish history of sex to dissect present-day practices and taboos.

Feltman’s mischievous humor dismantles fear and brings scientific literacy to a subject surrounded by misinformation, and indeed, as it gravitates toward the strange, Been There, Done That delivers some sorely needed sex ed. Explorations into age-old questions and bizarre trivia around birth control, aphrodisiacs, STIs, courtship rituals, and more establish that, when it comes to carnal pleasures and procreation, there’s never been a normal, and sex isn’t something to be scared of.

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Northshire Bookstore

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