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Off the Shelf

Recent books with Harvard connections

May-June 2007

A Natural History of North American Trees, by Donald Culross Peattie ’22, illustrated by Paul Landacre (Houghton Mifflin, $40). This is a one-volume edition of two classics from the 1950s by Peattie (1898-1964), who wrote about the giant sequoia and the lodgepole pine with such eloquence, erudition, and even humor that a botanical colleague once sniffily remarked to him, “I see you could not resist the temptation to be interesting.”

 

No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, by Robert Shrum, J.D. ’68, IOP ’74 (Simon & Schuster, $28). A veteran strategist in Democratic presidential campaigns, Shrum provides much well-recounted insider’s history, likely to nourish political junkies.

 

Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry, by Juliet McMains ’94 (Wesleyan University Press, $26.95). An assistant professor in the dance program at the University of Washington and an active DanceSport competitor, McMains explores the meaning of this blockbuster cultural phenomenon. With photographs.

 

A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey through the World of Fighting, by Sam Sheridan ’98 (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25). Sheridan chose violence as a career and here wipes the blood from his nose long enough to give readers a firsthand account of disciplined aggression.

 

The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness, by Michael Stein ’81, M.D. (Morrow, $23.95). For the benefit of both the sick and their well family and friends, Stein probes the inner life of patients who are seriously ill, their experience of betrayal, terror, loss, and loneliness.

 

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, by Bill George, M.B.A. ’66, professor of management practice, with Peter Sims (Jossey-Bass, $27.95). Based on research done at Harvard Business School and interviews with 125 top leaders in business, George, former CEO of Medtronic, shows readers how to craft their own leadership-development plan. You should, he advises: know your authentic self, orient your moral compass, understand your motivations, build your support team, and stay grounded by integrating all aspects of your life.

 

Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods, written and illustrated by Julie Zickefoose ’80 (Houghton Mifflin, $26). Zickefoose is an artist, naturalist, and sometime NPR commentator, who knew at the age of seven that she wanted to paint birds for a living. She paints— and writes—delightfully.

 

At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays, by Anne Fadiman ’74 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $21). The familiar essayist, writes Fadiman, speaks “to one reader, as if the two of them were sitting side by side in front of a crackling fire with their collars loosened, their favorite stimulants at hand, and a long evening of conversation stretching before them.” Most of these essays first appeared in the American Scholar, which Fadiman edited before becoming the Francis writer-in-residence at Yale. She was once this magazine’s “Undergraduate” columnist and remains on its board of incorporators.