Off the Shelf

The Funhouse Mirror... Keeping the Edge...

A bit of scenery: Doane's Falls, Royalston

The Funhouse Mirror: Reflections on Prison, by Robert Ellis Gordon '76 and inmates of the Washington Corrections System (Washington State University Press, $14.95, paper). Gordon taught writing in prison from 1989 until 1997, when the program's funding was eliminated by the state legislature. His writing and the essays and stories of six of his students provide a memorable image of the world of the incarcerated.

 

Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future, edited by Ashton B. Carter, Ford Foundation professor of science and international affairs, and John P. White, lecturer in public policy, both at the Kennedy School of Government (Preventive Defense Project, distributed by MIT Press, $17, paper). A bipartisan group of 18 defense experts and former government officials argue that "while the U.S. military is the finest fighting force in the world, the system that supports it is in disrepair."

 

The Magnificent Activist: The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1823-1911, edited by Howard N. Meyer (Da Capo, $25, paper). Reformer Higginson, A.B. 1841, Div. '47, A.M. '69, LL.D. '98, was an abolitionist, women's rights crusader, and editor of Emily Dickinson.

Death and Strudel, by Dorothy and Sidney Rosen, M.A.T. '52, Ph.D. '55 (Academy Chicago, $23). The Rosens confect a second outing for Belle Appleman, their Depression-era Bostonian garment-worker-turned-sleuth with a high regard for Jewish cooking.

Land of the Commonwealth: A Portrait of the Conserved Landscapes of Massachusetts, photographs by Richard Cheek '68, foreword by John Updike '54, Litt.D. '92, introduction by Robert E. Cook '68, director of the Arnold Arboretum, text by Libby Ola Hopkins, and afterword by Frederic Winthrop '63, former executive director of the Trustees of Reservations (Trustees of Reservations, distributed by the University of Massachusetts Press, $40). More than a fifth of Massachusetts is land permanently protected from development. For this, thanks go partly to a small group of citizens, led by landscape architect Charles Eliot, A.B. 1882, who in 1891 founded the Trustees of Reservations, which set out to acquire, writes Updike, "'bits of scenery' as 'country parks' for the growing and crowded masses of greater Boston." The pioneering efforts of these visionaries, joined later by many others in organizations focused on conservation, have blessed the densely populated state with bits of scenery in abundance, celebrated here in a brilliant photographic sampler.

Resident Aliens, by Joe Ashby Porter '64 (New Amsterdam, $19.95). Four adults, in varying degrees French, share, among other things, a house in the Virginia countryside in this novel about love and the Seventies. The author, a.k.a. Joseph A. Porter, has a day job as a Shakespearean scholar at Duke.

Archaeology and the Social History of Ships, by Richard A. Gould '61 (Cambridge University Press; $74.95, cloth; $29.95, paper). A professor of anthropology at Brown provides an up-to-date review of the field of maritime archaeology.

Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form, poems by Matthea Harvey '95 (Alice James Books, $11.95, paper). Poet Jorie Graham, Harvard's Boylston professor (see page 39), calls this a "beautiful first collection."

The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts, by Lee Baer, associate professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School (Dutton, $23.95). Ever have an urge to push someone in front of an oncoming train? Almost everyone has had such bad thoughts, but some of us are plagued by them and may find a measure of peace of mind in this guide for sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

B-ots spaceTurn Right at Orion: Travels through the Cosmos, by Mitchell Begelman '74, A.M. '74 (Perseus, $25). Here's a creative, informative, even entertaining work of scientific fiction, as opposed to science fiction. It is the travelogue of a twenty-first-century space voyager from Earth, who journeys to the center of the Milky Way and beyond, beholds the creation and death of stars, escapes the crushing forces at the edge of a black hole, and has many other adventures, yet nothing befalls him that is not in line with the facts of science as understood today. Begelman is professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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