Off the Shelf

Recent books with a Harvard accent

book coverA Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, by Lizabeth Cohen, Jones professor of American studies (Knopf, $32.50). How did mass consumption establish itself as a basic component of citizenship in these United States? How have the economic, political, social, and cultural structures engendered by mass consumption changed your life?

 

My First Revolution, by Winthrop Knowlton '53, M.B.A. '55 (EastBridge, $14.95, paper). In 1948 two teenagers—Knowlton and his chum James C. Thomson Jr., both just out of prep school—traveled through China as Communist forces swept southward. Knowlton went on to become a publisher, a professor at the Kennedy School, and now a money manager. The late James Thomson, Ph.D. '61, was a former curator of Harvard's Nieman Foundation for journalists.

 

Hotel Kid: A Times Square Childhood, by Stephen Lewis '50 (Paul Dry Books, $22.95). The author and his little brother grew up in New York's Taft Hotel, where his father managed a staff of Damon Runyonesque characters. "Most of what we know, right and wrong, we learned at the Taft," Lewis writes. "Much of what we take for granted, other people don't know at all."

 

Inventing the Charles River, by Karl Haglund (MIT Press, $49.95). A profusely illustrated, scholarly history of how the river came to be imagined as a single public space. Haglund is project manager for the New Charles River Basin at the Metropolitan District Commission.

 

Matisse, by Pierre Schneider, Jf '50, Ph.D. '53 (Rizzoli, $100). "This mammoth book will be read as long as people are interested in Matisse, which is to say forever," judged the New York Times Book Review in 1984, when the mammoth first appeared. It has been out of print for a decade. This updated account of Matisse's work contains 752 large pages and 928 illustrations (220 in color), weighs eight and a half pounds, and is released in anticipation of the major Matisse/Picasso exhibition coming to the Museum of Modern Art in February.

 

Nothing Is Sacred: Economic Ideas for the New Millennium, by Robert J. Barro, Ph.D. '70, Waggoner professor of econom-ics (MIT Press, $24.95). Barro begins with essays on famous economists, among them Lawrence H. Summers. "Summers's outlook on economic policy can be summarized by the remark that he gave me some years ago: 'If I had your views on economics, I would find another profession.' He meant that if free markets usually worked well and the government ought usually to stay out, then he would find economics to be an uninteresting occupation."

 

First House: The Grid, the Figure and the Void, by Christian Bjone (Wiley-Academy, $70). In examining the first buildings done by seven soon-to-be-famous men—including Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and I.M. Pei—who studied under the European modernists Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at Harvard's Graduate School of Design in the 1940s, the author discerns the personal design ideas of the students among lessons from the masters.

 

I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company, by Brian Hall '81 (Viking, $25.95). Three years after the end of his expedition with William Clark, Meriwether Lewis killed himself. This novel is an imagination of the inner life of the mercurial Lewis and is told by him, by Clark, by Sacagawea, by her husband, and by Clark's black slave, York.

 

Paris: Capital of the World, by Patrice Higonnet, Goelet professor of French history (Harvard University Press, $35). A handsome cultural portrait of Paris from the mid eighteenth century to World War II, "a history not of factual events but of the way the city has been perceived, conceived, and dreamed."

 

Tyrus, by Patrick Creevy, Ph.D. '75 (Forge, $25.95). The action in this novel about Ty Cobb unfolds just at the start of his baseball journey, when he may well have been nearing psychosis. Creevy calls him a kind of American Hamlet and writes in an afterword, "It seems he chose with furious anger to be, and not not to be. But his mind was very heavily burdened."

ÒBeauty and the BeastÓ as envisioned by Walter Crane, 1875
"Beauty and the Beast" as envisioned by Walter Crane, 1875
From The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, edited and with an introduction by Maria Tatar, Loeb professor of Germanic languages and literatures (Norton, $35). Here are "The Ugly Duckling," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Bluebeard," and 23 other "voyages of discovery, leading us into secret new worlds that magnify childhood desires and anxieties and address the great existential mysteries." Wonderfully illustrated.        

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