Off the Shelf

A sampling of current books received at this magazine

Harvard Yard, by William Martin '72 (Warner, $25.95). When John Harvard was born, his parents' friend William Shakespeare gave them an autograph manuscript of a new play, Love's Labours Won. Any printer would pay £10 for it, said Will, and that would make a nice nest egg for John. But the play came to America with John, even though theater pieces were anathema to Puritans, and was part of his bequest of books to the new college, from which the unsavory Master Nathaniel Eaton stole it. It was recovered in Padua by Isaac Wedge, a member of the College's first class and the first of a line of Wedges, even unto the present day, who more or less surreptitiously looked after the manuscript for the College. Believe all this, reader (you'll be glad you did), and join Back Bay rare-book dealer Peter Fallon as he tracks the fabled volume, while dodging assorted thugs. Many Harvardians will find this historical thriller irresistible.

 

Kennedy, Johnson, and the Quest for Justice: The Civil Rights Tapes, by Jonathan Rosenberg, Ph.D. '97, and Zachary Karabell, Ph.D. '96 (Norton, $27.95). The authors provide a narrative that puts into context fascinating transcripts of recordings—most never before published—that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson made of their Oval Office conversations about race and racial violence in the two years before passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

 

Transplant: From Myth to Reality, by Nicholas L. Tilney '58, M.D. (Yale University Press, $30). The evolution of organ transplantation, traced in a lively chronicle by the Moore professor of surgery and director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at the Medical School.

"I wanted to create a new form of landscape design," writes Charles Jencks, "based on the waveforms that unite the atom to the galaxy, radio waves to brain waves, ammonites to sunflowers —the pattern that connects, a new poetics."
From the book

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, by Charles Jencks '61, B.Arch. '65 (Antique Collectors Club, $60). Architecture critic and designer Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick, made an astonishing, 30-acre garden in Scotland conceived as a speculation on nature—on atoms, DNA, black holes, the Fibonacci spiral. The book is an eyestopper; the garden itself is open on request.

 

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, by Laurence Bergreen '72 (HarperCollins, $27.95). The biographer of Louis Armstrong, Al Capone, and Irving Berlin alters course to take readers on board with Magellan, who set out in 1519 with five ships and about 260 sailors. Three years later, one ship and 18 sailors returned. "They had survived an expedition to the ends of the earth," writes Bergreen, "but more than that, they had endured a voyage into the darkest recesses of the human soul."

 

Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education, by David L. Kirp, LL.B. '68 (Harvard University Press, $29.95). "American higher education is being transformed by both the power and the ethic of the marketplace," writes Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. "Still, embedded in the very idea of the university...are values that the market does not honor...."

 

Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball, 1903-2003, by Henry D. Fetter '71, J.D. '77 (Norton, $25.95). How the sport and the business of baseball evolved—and how the damn Yankees got that way.

 

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, by Michael Watkins, Ph.D. '92, associate professor of business administration at the Business School (Harvard Business School Press, $24.95). How to get a grip on a new job in the three months you have to do that.

 

Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House, by Franklin Toker, Ph.D. '73 (Knopf, $35). Although Fallingwater is much extolled, this is the house's first full biography, by a professor of the history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He does not neglect Kaufmann, the colorful department-store mogul who paid the bills. Nicely illustrated.

 

Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life, by William Howard Adams, senior fellow, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (Yale University Press, $30). Cranky, sassy, irreverent, wise, a genius with an oft-indulged taste for women, this forgotten Founder is well remembered in a gracefully written biography.    

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