Ned Gallagher in Havana.

Ned Gallagher:
What I’m Up To


End of Summer 2021



The Pandemic, Next Stage

It’s far too soon to say this pandemic is over, of course, but in the the past six months most aspects of my life have gradually returned to some semblance of normalcy. While the delta variant of the COVID virus has produced some grim numbers in the country, I feel fortunate to live in New England, where the spike has been less severe due to widespread adoption of vaccines. Since getting two jabs of Moderna in the early spring, I’ve been able to spend (long overdue) time with my family, indulge in a bit of indoor dining in restaurants, and even resume a bit of domestic travel—with a series of short jaunts in the summer to Block Island, northern Michigan, Washington DC, Virginia, Utah, and Texas. Airports and air travel were involved in most of those trips, but the experience was not at all harrowing. I also attended a wedding, took in some live theater performances (mostly masked and distanced), went to the cinema a few times, and enjoyed a session at the U.S. Open over Labor Day weekend.

My work life is back to a familiar routine too; with over 99% of the school community vaccinated, we have been able to return to in-person classes with masking, and no masks or distancing required outdoors or—in a few days—in the residential houses. The twice-weekly testing regime is gone this year (though students were tested when they returned to campus from summer break). And we have a full slate of athletic competitions for our teams (our traditional opponents are all requiring vaccination) and we gather for all-school meetings and extracurricular functions as well. It’s nice to be able to teach at the Harkness tables again, and not worry about prepping Zoom hookups each class for hybrid learning. We are hopeful our regular off-campus trips—government students to DC, tennis team to spring training somewhere warm—will be scheduled in 2022.

As a confirmed Team Science supporter, I understand this medical crisis is not going to suddenly vanish and we will never go back entirely to life as we knew it pre-2020. As developments in vaccines and treatments continue to emerge, the shift from pandemic to endemic will shape our new normal. And as a global community, we all will be protected if we can mobilize the will and resources to get ALL people around the world the vaccines and treatments we are lucky to have here in the U.S.



What I’m Reading

Working On Now:

  • Evan Osnos, Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury
  • Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
  • Robert Mayer, Super-Folks
  • Seth Radwell, American Schism: How the Two Enlightenments Hold the Secret to Healing our Nation

Recently Finished:

  • Billie Jean King, All In: An Autobiography
  • Bryan Garner, Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace & Bryan A. Garner Talk Language and Writing
  • Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year
  • Christopher Clarey, The Master: The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer
  • Michael Wolff, Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency
  • Michael Lewis, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story
  • Dan Barry, Pull Me Up: A Memoir
  • Kevin Birmingham, The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses
  • Carl J. Richard, Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers
  • Thomas Frank, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism
  • Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto The Drops of God, Vols. 1–4
  • Daniel Silva, The Cellist
  • Adam Serwer, The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America
  • Alex Michaelides, The Maidens
  • Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
  • Flavio Febbraro, How to Read World History in Art: From the Code of Hammurabi to September 11
  • Mark Edmundson, The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll: A Memoir
  • David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
  • Heather McGhee, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
  • Jon L. Wertheim, Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever

On Deck:

  • Colson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle: A Novel
  • Michael Brendan Dougherty, My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son’s Search For Home
  • Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary: A Novel
  • Peter Underwood, The Pros: The Forgotten Heroes of Tennis
  • Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning: Book One of Terra Ignota
  • Robert D. Putnam, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again
  • David Browne, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

For Courses I Took This Summer:

  • John Milton, Paradise Lost
  • Alice Oswald, Memorial: A Version of Homer’s Iliad
  • Christopher Logue, War Music
  • Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
  • Hesiod, Theogony
  • Hesiod, Works and Days
  • Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta
  • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

For Courses I’m Taking This Fall:

  • Plutarch, Parallel Lives
  • Plato, Symposium
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
  • The Holy Bible
  • The Essential Plotinus
  • Beowulf
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Augustine, City of God

For Courses I’m Teaching This Fall:

  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
  • English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works
  • E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops
  • Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Nicholas Carr, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us
  • Michael G. Roskin and Nicholas O. Berry, IR: The New World of International Relations
  • Joseph S. Nye and David A. Welch, Understanding Global Conflict: An Introduction to Theory and History
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • James Q. Wilson et al., American Government: Institutions and Policies



What I’m Watching


  • Only Murders In the Building (Hulu)
  • The Circus, Season 6 (Showtime)
  • The Morning Show, Season 2 (Apple TV+)
  • What If...? (Disney+)
  • What We Do In The Shadows, Season 3 (Hulu)
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks, Season 2 (Paramount+)
  • Ted Lasso, Season 2 (Apple TV+)
  • Titans, Season 3 (HBO Max)

Recently Finished—Television:

  • The White Lotus, Season 1 (HBO Max)
  • The Chair (Netflix)
  • Bosch, Season 7 (Amazon Prime)
  • Loki, Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Rutherford Falls (Peacock)
  • Schmigadoon (Apple TV+)
  • Reservation Dogs (Hulu)
  • The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
  • Mythic Quest, Seasons 1 & 2 (Apple TV+)
  • Mare of Easttown (HBO Max)
  • Invincible, Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • Staged, Seasons 1 & 2 (Hulu)
  • Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix)
  • Arrested Development, Seasons 1–4 (Netflix)
  • Gossip Girl (HBO Max)
  • Babylon 5, Seasons 1–5 (HBO Max)
  • The Bad Batch, Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Mr. Corman (Apple TV+)
  • Halston (Netflix)
  • Professor T (PBS Passport)
  • 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything (Apple TV+)
  • Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union (HBO Max)

On Deck—Television:

  • Muhammad Ali (PBS Passport)
  • Star Wars: Visions (Disney+)
  • Grantchester, Season 6 (PBS Passport)
  • Y: The Last Man (Hulu)
  • The Spanish Princess (Starz)
  • Foundation (Apple TV+)
  • Lucan (BritBox)

Recently Finished—Films:

  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (d. Destin Daniel Cretton, 2021)
  • The Suicide Squad (HBO Max, d. James Gunn, 2021)
  • Casino Royale (d. Martin Campbell, 2006)
  • The Green Knight (d. David Lowery, 2020)
  • Black Widow (d. Cate Shortland, 2020)
  • Key Largo (d. John Huston, 1948)
  • In The Heights (HBO Max, d. Jon Chu, 2021)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (d. Otto Preminger, 1959)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (Disney+, d. Taika Waititi, 2017)
  • Mission: Impossible (Paramount+, d. Brian De Palma, 1996)
  • The Matrix (HBO Max, d. Wachowskis, 1999)
  • Batman vs. Superman [Ultimate Edition] (HBO Max, d. Zack Snyder, 2019)
  • Mighty Ira (Amazon Prime, d. Chris Maltby, Nico Perrino and Aaron Reese, 2021)
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (HBO Max, d. Adam Wingard, 2021)
  • Hemingway (PBS Passport, d. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, 2021)
  • Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (ESPN+, d. Dan Klores, 2020)



What I’m Listening To


  • Paul Lewis, Joseph Haydn: Piano Sonatas Nos. 20, 34, 51, & 52
  • Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Art Pepper, Unreleased Vol VI: Blues for the Fisherman
  • George Harrison, All Things Must Pass


  • Your Undivided Attention
  • Smartless
  • Batman: The Audio Adventures
  • Hell and High Water with John Heilemann

Audiobooks/Radio Dramas:

  • The Sandman, Act II (Audible)
  • Stephen Fry, Mythos
  • Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology



What I’m Looking Forward To

  • fall weather
  • seeing some movies on the big screen:
    • No Time To Die
    • Dune
    • The French Dispatch
    • Eternals
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • a haircut (it’s going on twenty months now!)


Thanks to Derek Sivers for his concept of the /now page.
Revised: 22 September 2021