Yale Library Book Talk series announces lineup for spring 2024

  • Three book covers: Fancy Bear is read on top and shows painting of blue bear in suit at bottom; American Anarchy shows white banner held by protesters; This Exquisite Loneliness is white cover with a small tangerine at lower left corner
January 8, 2024

Throughout the academic calendar, the Yale Library Book Talk series hosts acclaimed authors to discuss newly released books of fiction or nonfiction. The three topics this spring season include hacking in the digital age (and its notorious perpetrators), the history of anarchy in America and how it shapes public life today, and the work of six creative thinkers inspired by loneliness.

Feb. 7 (4 p.m.)

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age in Five Extraordinary Hacks

Scott J. Shapiro’s latest book, Fancy Bear Goes Phishing, draws on his popular Yale University class about hacking in the digital age. In this dramatic true-crime narrative, Shapiro presents the fascinating tales of infamous hackers: Robert Morris Jr., the graduate student who accidentally crashed the Internet in the 1980s; the Bulgarian “Dark Avenger,” who invented the first mutating computer-virus engine; the 16-year-old who took control of Paris Hilton’s cell phone; the Russian intelligence officers who sought to control a U.S. election; and others.

This book reveals that cybercrime has less to do with defective digital programming than with the faulty wiring of our psyches and society. Shapiro is the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at Yale Law School. He is also the founding director of the Yale CyberSecurity Lab.

March 6 (4 p.m.)

American Anarchy: The Epic Struggle between Immigrant Radicals and the U.S. Government at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

Michael Willrich has written a lively, fast-paced history that traces America’s anarchist movement and the government’s ongoing efforts to destroy it. In the early 20th century, anarchists Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and others championed a radical vision of a world without states, laws, or private property. They were heroes to many working-class immigrants, but others saw anarchism—militant and sometimes violent—as a terrifying foreign ideology. Government officials launched a decades-long “war on anarchy,” a program of spying, censorship, and deportation that established the modern surveillance state.

Based on Willrich’s work with the Harry Weinberger Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, “American Anarchy” reveals how past anarchists, their allies, their enemies, and their battles still shape our public life. The author, Leff Families Professor of History at Brandeis University, is a social, legal, and political historian.

April 3 (4 p.m.)

“This Exquisite Loneliness: What Loners, Outcasts, and the Misunderstood Can Teach Us about Creativity”

In his most recent book, Richard Deming—poet, critic, and essayist—examines the life and work of six brilliant minds to answer the question, “What can be done not despite of but because of loneliness?” Deming explores that unwelcome feeling, both his own experience of it and the experiences of six creative thinkers, to reveal how profound discomfort can fuel creative drive.

Through the stories of Melanie Klein’s contributions to psychoanalysis, Zora Neale Hurston’s literary and ethnographic writing, the essays of Walter Benjamin, Walker Evans’s photography, Egon Schiele’s artwork, and Rod Serling’s narratives in “The Twilight Zone,” Deming explores how loneliness has led to some of the most original, innovative art and writing of the 20th century. The author will discuss his new book with Karin Roffman, biographer, literary critic, and associate director of the Public Humanities Program at Yale.

The authors will be available to sign copies of books that participants have purchased in advance. Books will not be sold at the event.

All events are free and open to the public and will be held in the lecture hall at Sterling Memorial Library. 

The Yale Library Book Talk series features the research and writing processes of Yale faculty, alumni, and other authors who have worked with materials in Yale Library collections. 

Subscribe to the Yale Library Book Talk mailing list to learn about future events.

—Deborah Cannarella