Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Astrophysics to Poetry: Recent Bowdoin Faculty Books

Story posted April 08, 2010

Books by Bowdoin faculty members are continuing to shape disciplines and garner widespread recognition. Recent faculty books include the following titles:


Leading theoretical astrophysicists Bowdoin Professor of Physics Thomas W. Baumgarte and Stuart L. Shapiro (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) have published, Numerical Relativity: Solving Einsteinís Equations on the Computer (Cambridge University Press, May 2010), which is among the first textbooks on numerical relativity. Aimed at students and researchers entering the field, the book develops the mathematical formalism from first principles, then highlights some of the pioneering simulations involving black holes and neutron stars, gravitational collapse and gravitational waves. The book contains 300 exercises to help readers master new material, with applications covering calculations of coalescing binary black holes and binary neutron stars, rotating stars, colliding star clusters, gravitational and magnetorotational collapse, critical phenomena, the generation of gravitational waves, and other topics of current physical and astrophysical significance. Read a transcript of Baumgarte's 2009 Convocation address, "A Curious Universe."


For her research for Red to Green: Environmental Activism in Post-Soviet Russia (Cornell University Press, (March 2010), Assistant Professor of Government Laura Henry spent more than a year conducting fieldwork in five regions of Russia to identify the contradictory trends influencing grassroots environmental movements in the post-Soviet period. At the heart of Henry's examination is a fascination with the ability of individuals to protest, organize and work for political change. Drawing on in-depth interviews with activists, she illustrates how green organizations have pursued their goals by "recycling" Soviet-era norms, institutions, and networks and used them in combination with transnational ideas, resources, and partnerships. Henry details how grassroots organizations use the limited economic and political opportunities that are available to them, and when they are able to influence policy and political practice. Read story about her research.


Political scientist Christian Potholm, DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government, recently published Winning at War: 7 Keys to Military Victory Throughout History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), a seminal and provocative study of war, from ancient battles to today. Potholm analyzes seven variables that have served as predictors of military success over time and across cultures: technology, sustained ruthlessness, discipline, receptivity to innovation, protection of military capital from civilians and rulers, will, and the belief that there will always be another war.

"The United States military today is better prepared, has better discipline and better technology than it's ever had in its whole history," observed Potholm in a radio interview on Maine Public Broadcasting Network. "But if you look at all insurgencies, the average successful counterinsurgency takes 13 years. So the key to success in counterinsurgency is patience, and that, of course, people in the Western world don't have much of." Read about the book and listen to interview.


Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Margaret Hanétha Vété-Congolo published her first book of poems, Avoir et Être: Ce que j'Ai, ce que je Suis (Le Chasseur abstrait, 2009). The collection of French language poems is dedicated to women and to Vété-Congolo's African ancestors in America. Of the collection, noted African novelist Alain Mabanckou wrote: "Hanetha's poetry brings back in us a lost ardor. It presents us the world with a reconstituted, molded, multicolored, reinvented, contested, and squabbled language. It is actually a language close to what is missing nowadays: the sprawling word."

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