Off the Shelf

A sampling of current books received at this magazine

Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn from Myths, by Mary Lefkowitz, Ph.D. '61, RI '73 (Yale University Press, $30). Lefkowitz, who has taught Greek mythology at Wellesley for more than 25 years, reintroduces readers to the literature of Homer, Ovid, Virgil, and many others. She keeps our eyes not on the heroes of the myths, but on the gods, whose role is central, she writes, but who are often treated by commentators with some condescension, "as if they were another species of human being."


Rudolf Serkin: A Life, by Stephen Lehmann, Ed.M. '71, and Marion Faber, Ph.D. '72 (Oxford University Press, $35). Serkin had a resounding impact on classical music in America as pianist, teacher, shaper of important musical institutions, and role model. The authors assay this complicated man, in this first biography of him, through a combination of narrative and interviews. The book comes with a CD of previously unreleased performances.


First Light: Acadia National Park and Maine's Mount Desert Island, photographs by Tom Blagden Jr. '73, text by Charles R. Tyson Jr. (Westcliffe Publishers, $60). A big, square book full of very beautiful photographs of the first national park east of the Mississippi.


Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany, by Victor Grossman, a.k.a. Stephen Wechsler '49 (University of Massachusetts Press, $22.95 paper). While serving in the United States Army in Germany in 1952, Wechsler, a Communist activist at Harvard, swam across the Danube one Sunday morning and defected to the Soviets. He went on to make a life in East Germany as a freelance writer and lecturer.


Impressionist Cats and Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life, by James H. Rubin, Ph.D. '72 (Yale University Press, $30). The author is professor and chair of the department of art at Stony Brook, State University of New York. "Just as Impressionist painting appeals to visual pleasure, cats and dogs brighten one's emotions. Put the two together and the result is pure delight." And so it is. Generously illustrated.


Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, by P.W. Singer, Ph.D. '01 (Cornell University Press, $39.95). Corporations now sell the strategic advice of retired generals, maintenance for B-2 stealth bombers, and the combat services of commandos. Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, finds that the appearance of the profit motive on the battlefield raises some troubling questions.


Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, by Paul Farmer, M.D. '88, Ph.D. '90, professor of medical anthropology, Harvard Medical School (University of California Press, $27.50). An infectious-disease specialist with 20 years' experience working on public health in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, Farmer believes that the incidence of disease among the poorest people is preordained by the capitalist market system and that new ways must be found to allocate healthcare, food, and education justly (see "Bedside Manner").


Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal, by William R. Hutchison, Warren research professor of the history of religion in America, Harvard Divinity School (Yale University Press, $29.95). An account of the melting pot's learning experience with religious diversity and its challenges.


That Man: An Insider's Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, by Robert H. Jackson, edited and introduced by John Q. Barrett, J.D. '86 (Oxford University Press, $30). A heretofore-unknown, intimate memoir of FDR, written 50 years ago by a friend and adviser, the late Supreme Court Justice Jackson.


Naked in Baghdad, by Anne Garrels '72 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $22). The war as seen up close and personal by National Public Radio's correspondent.


The Degaev Affair: Terror and Treason in Tsarist Russia, by Richard Pipes, Ph.D. '50, Baird professor of history emeritus (Yale University Press, $22.95). A terrorist and a triple-crosser, Sergei Degaev (1857-1921) fled Russia and became Alexander Pell, "jolly little Pell," a mathematics professor at the University of South Dakota.


Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, edited by Alan Chong, Richard Lingner, and Carl Zahn '49 (Beacon Press, $60). A centennial celebration of Mrs. Gardner's Palace, Boston's treasure.


You might also like

How Air Pollution Affects Our Brains

An expert Harvard panel discusses the links between air pollution and dementia, learning, mental health, and mood.

Steven Pinker on Apple’s Vision Pro

Professor of psychology on the science and history behind the Vision Pro.

The State of Black America

Harvard African American scholars take stock of a difficult moment. 

Most popular

Good Design

A public interest movement redefines architecture.

Open Book: The Photographer’s Art

Robin Kelsey probes the place of photography within art.

An Ipswich Idyll

Restorations revive the grand spirit of a North Shore estate.

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults