In How to Choose a Leader: Machiavelli’s Advice to Citizens, professor emeritus of politics Maurizio Viroli interprets Niccolò Machiavelli’s writings to see what can be learned about selecting a leader. Rejecting popular beliefs that Machiavelli was a cynical realist, the book argues that he believed republics can’t survive, let alone thrive, without leaders who are virtuous as well as effective. Among Machiavelli’s advice: Voters should choose leaders who put the common good above narrower interests and who make fighting corruption a priority. 

The Lofts of SoHo: Gentrification, Art, and Industry in New York, 1950–1980 traces the history of New York’s SoHo district from industrial space to artists’ haven to upper-class residential neighborhood. Aaron Shkuda, program manager of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, describes how the development of this district showcases the role artists have played in shaping cities.

When did the metaphor of people being “rooted” to the earth and to the nations begin? Assistant professor of French Christy Wampole traces the history of this figure of speech from 20th-century Europe to the present in Rootedness: The Ramifications of a Metaphor, describing how some people were seen as unrooted and hence unrighteous. Drawing on many fields, she describes how the evolution of this figure of speech has had far-reaching political and social consequences. 

Paul Robeson, born in Princeton in 1898 to a former slave, became a football star, lawyer, world-famous singer and actor, and political activist. In Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary, Gerald Horne ’70, a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston, recounts Robeson’s early struggle against segregation and argues that his story enabled black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to emerge.

For hundreds of years, Timbuktu was a center of the manuscript trade. But militant Islamists arrived in 2012, and librarians feared the manuscripts would be destroyed. In The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, journalist Joshua Hammer ’79 chronicles the story of librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, who helped smuggle 350,000 medieval manuscripts to safety. 

Gene Kopelson ’73 explores Ronald Reagan’s quest for the presidency in Reagan’s 1968 Dress Rehearsal: Ike, RFK, and Reagan’s Emergence as a World Statesman. Kopelson draws from audiotapes from Reagan’s days as governor of California and correspondence between Reagan and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.