This often entertaining first novel falls victim to the very insularity it depicts: the inner workings of a university political- science department. Lydia Martin has carefully navigated the minefield of departmental politics. Then a colleague of equal standing is denied tenure. Lydia needs to publish a new book—fast. Tensions mount and professors crack under the stress. In spite of herself, Lydia discovers ethics and is ultimately granted tenure by doing the right thing. The author of The Presidential Press Conference: Its Role in the American Political Science clearly knows her territory. But the protagonist’s transformation often rings false, and the clever observations and easy-to-read style won’t spark interest outside the ivied walls. The world may revolve around tenure for these self-involved characters, but their crisis will prove less compelling for the nonacademic.