Off the Shelf

A sampling of current books received at this magazine

Who the Hell Are We Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars, by C. Michael Hiam (Steerforth Press, $25.95). Here’s a tightly written narrative history of what happened when the late CIA analyst Samuel A. Adams ’55, L ’61, concluded that the intelligence community had grossly underestimated the size of the Viet Cong army. His struggle led to a 1982 CBS documentary and a resultant lawsuit by retired U.S. Army chief of staff General William C. Westmoreland, who sought $120 million in damages from Adams and journalist Mike Wallace. Westmoreland dropped the case before it went to the jury.

Profit with Honor: The New Stage of Market Capitalism, by Daniel Yankelovich ’46, G ’49, IOP ’96 (Yale University Press, $24). “[E]xisting standards of business ethics are too weak to stop the scandals and restore trust,” writes the author, who has served on many corporate boards. Corporations will gain competitive advantage if they adopt a higher standard of ethics and treat no stakeholders—including employees, customers, and the community—as second-class citizens.

Sheetrock & Shellac: A Thinking Person’s Guide to the Art and Science of Home Improvement, by David Owen ’78 (Simon & Schuster, $24.95). Do you seek humane counsel about your toilet? Hiring someone for the Big Kitchen Project? Avoiding the hazard of cleaning your gutters? Owen, a New Yorker staff writer and good-humored fellow, delivers it with authority. 

Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball, by Tom Graham, J.D. ’68, and Rachel Graham Cody, M.T.S. ’99 (Atria Books, $24). Indiana in 1947 was an unlikely spot for a civil-rights breakthrough, but it was there and then that African American Bill Garrett began playing basketball for Indiana University. He was later drafted by the Celtics.

Composer David Del Tredici, who once taught music at Harvard. From Kings in Their Castles
From the book

Kings in Their Castles: Photographs of Queer Men at Home, by Tom Atwood ’95 (University of Wisconsin Press, $35). Atwood has made a collective portrait of gay urban men at home, and home—believe it—is often creatively decorated. Among the artists, writers, filmmakers, and so on are several Harvardians.

I’m No Angel: The Blonde in Fiction and Film, by Ellen Tremper, Ph.D. ’69 (University of Virginia Press; $55, cloth; $20, paper). “A brunette walks into the doctor’s office and complains….” Thus begins this learned and witty book, by a professor of English at Brooklyn College, which follows the blonde from Thackeray’s Rebecca and Rowena to Marilyn and beyond. In a riff on a Clairol ad, Tremper writes, “Having only one life to live, I’ve very much enjoyed living it through these blondes.”

An Argument for Mind, by Jerome Kagan, professor of psychology emeritus (Yale University Press, $27.50). Kagan orchestrates three themes in this graceful chronicle: “a selective history of psychology from my graduate years to the present, the questions I put to nature and the replies, and a critique of contemporary social science, especially an analysis of the current romance between psychology and biology.” 

A Taxonomy of Barnacles, by Galt Niederhoffer ’97 (St. Martin’s, $24.95). A screwball literary entertainment, this first novel concerns the six Barnacle sisters of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They are set a challenge by their father, who is fixated on nature versus nurture: whichever one most spectacularly carries on his name will inherit his fortune.

Bitter Ocean: The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1945, by David Fairbank White ’73 (Simon & Schuster, $26). In this dreadful segment of World War II, grippingly reported here, 63,000 Allied sailors and airmen and 30,000 merchant seamen lost their lives. The casualty rate for those on German U-boats—with 43,000 dead— was the highest for any military unit since the time of the Romans.

Mommy Wars: Stay-at-home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families, edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner ’87 (Random House, $24.95). Twenty-six outspoken women tell it like it is.

Inherit the Land, by Jack Lueders-Booth, Ed.M. ’78 (Pond Press, $40). These black-and-white images depict the personal lives of families who work and live in the garbage dumps of Tijuana. Booth taught photography at Harvard from 1970 to 1999.

The New American Cooking, by Joan Nathan, M.P.A. ’76 (Knopf, $35). Nathan dishes up cosmopolitan American fare with 280 recipes “full of delectable new flavors from around the world,” viz., zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese.

You might also like

Teaching Nutrition in Medical Education

Will Harvard Medical School return nutrition instruction to pre-eminence?

Animal (Code) Cracker

After listening to leviathans, an undergraduate comes to conservation.  

Breaking Bread

Alexander Heffner ’12 plumbs the state of democracy.

Most popular

Prepare for AI Hackers

Human systems of all kinds may soon be vulnerable to subversion by artificial intelligence.

Who Built the Pyramids?

Not slaves. Archaeologist Mark Lehner, digging deeper, discovers a city of privileged workers.

Teaching Nutrition in Medical Education

Will Harvard Medical School return nutrition instruction to pre-eminence?

More to explore

Architect Kimberly Dowdell is Changing Her Profession

Kimberly Dowdell influences her profession—and the built environment.

How Schizophrenia Resembles the Aging Brain

The search for schizophrenia’s biological basis reveals an unexpected link to cellular changes seen in aging brains.

Harvard Researchers on Speaking to Whales

Project CETI’s pioneering effort to unlock the language of sperm whales