Off the Shelf: Books and Media by Penn State Faculty

book cover for Bombshell: The Many Faces of Female Terrorists

Violent Femmes

Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists (Viking Canada)

Often portrayed as pawns of male-dominated terrorist organizations, female terrorists are actually motivated by more complicated and diverse reasons.

Mia Bloom, a fellow at Penn State’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism and one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism, explores the reasons why women resort to suicide bombings and other violent acts, and offers strategies on how to confront this insidious form of political coercion. In this at times disturbing, yet revealing, book, Bloom indicates that revenge, redemption, relationship, respect and rape often motivate female terrorists. Terrorist groups encourage women’s participation because female terrorists draw media attention, and their presence can be used to goad more men into the movement.

Bloom recommends blunting the lure of terrorism for females by exposing the true nature of violent groups in a process she refers to as “deglamorizing, demobilizing and delegitimizing terrorism.”

—Matthew Swayne


book cover for Poultry Science, Chicken Culture

Free Range

Poultry Science, Chicken Culture: A Partial Alphabet (Rutgers University Press)

The idea for Susan Squier’s new book was hatched soon after she began raising chickens in her own backyard. A professor of women’s studies and English at Penn State, Squier began to plumb the bird’s prominence in science and culture, finding, in short, that “chickens are good to think with.”

Her subsequent examination, a kind of primer, is remarkably diverse. Squier considers the chicken in contexts ranging from poultry science to fine-art photography. She looks at chickens and eggs in the development of embryology and regenerative medicine, traces the iconic figure of the chicken (and chicken thief) in political discourse, and analyzes the recent panic regarding avian flu.

Squier laments the impacts of industrial poultry farming as well as the neglect of agriculture within the field of cultural studies. Her book, she notes, is “a combination of personal passion and scholarly information,” by which she seeks “to explore the fertile potential this humble domestic animal holds for all kinds of intellectual inquiries and practical pursuits.”

—David Pacchioli


book cover for the Endurance Paradox: Bone Health for the Endurance Athlete

Watch Out for Bones

The Endurance Paradox: Bone Health for the Endurance Athlete (Left Coast Press)

The benefits of endurance exercise are widely touted: improved cardiovascular health and general physical and mental well-being. But long-distance running, cycling, and swimming can also be hard on your bones. That's the paradox addressed by Thomas Whipple and Robert Eckhardt in their new book.

Whipple, an orthopedic physical therapist at Penn State Sports Medicine Clinic, and Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology in the Department of Kinesiology, begin with the basics of bone-cell activity, the processes of resorption and generation which, when thrown out of balance, can lead to stress fractures and premature bone loss.

Drawing on current research, they outline the many factors that influence this delicate balance, including exercise, nutrition, hormones, metabolism, mechanics, and training techniques. “Understanding how these variables can affect the skeleton,” they write, “is necessary to minimize the risk of bone loss and maximize general health and performance.”

The authors include extensive scientific references and provide guidelines for strength training, nutrition, and rehabilitation, intending a “comprehensive resource” for athletes, coaches and exercise physiologists.

—David Pacchioli

Last Updated July 12, 2011