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Off the Shelf

Recent books with Harvard connections

July-August 2007

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff, by Rosemary Mahoney ’83 (Little, Brown, $23.99). “I am not afraid to die; I simply do not want to. Nevertheless, I am also a person who is drawn to doing physically difficult and sometimes even dangerous things. I cannot deny that I like to find myself in sticky situations….” Mahoney’s book is hard to put down both because of the stickiness of a woman rowing the Nile, alone, and because of the evocative beauty of her prose.

The Americanist, by Daniel Aaron, Ph.D. ’43, Litt.D. ’07, Thomas professor of English and American literature emeritus (University of Michigan Press, $24.95). This memoir, eloquent and witty, is about both its author and the field he did much to create. For an earlier version of a bit of it, see “The ‘Great Good Place’” (September-October 2001, page 46).

We’re All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age, by Scott Gant, J.D. ’95 (Free Press, $26). Everyone who disseminates information and opinion to the public —your neighborhood blogger, say— should have the same press rights and privileges granted to a staff reporter for the New York Times, argues Gant.

Cousin John: The Story of a Boy and a Small Smart Pig, by Walter Paine ’49 (Bunker Hill Publishing, $17.95). This is a true and pleasant story for young readers, set in the country in Brookline, Massachusetts, in the 1930s, about a boy who finds his father difficult, nature consoling, and his pig, Cousin John, a pal.

Bart Giamatti: A Profile, by Robert P. Moncreiff, LL.B. ’57 (Yale University Press, $35). Social conservative Giamatti went from being the president of Yale in turbulent times to commissioner of baseball during the banishment of Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose for gambling, a struggle Moncreiff interestingly puts into legal context.

Havana: Autobiography of a City, by Alfredo Jos Estrada ’80 (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95). Novelist and editor Estrada tells vivid- ly the history of his hometown, from Columbus to Castro.

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace, by Ali A. Allawi, M.B.A. ’71 (Yale University Press, $28). “Magisterial,” according to Roger Owen, Meyer professor of Middle East history, “It is authoritative, incisive, dispassionate, devastating in its important judgments, and wholly original.” Allawi is senior adviser to the prime minister of Iraq.

Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures, by Anne C. Bromer and Julian I. Edison ’51, M.B.A. ’53 (Abrams, $40). Never more than three inches tall and sometimes almost specks, miniature books may come “gemmed, tooled, locked, illuminated, and illustrated by the likes of Picasso, Mir, and Gorey.” In a volume big and profusely illustrated, book dealer Bromer and collector Edison take a close, wide-ranging look at these delightful diminutives.

Neon Dragon, by John F. Dobbyn ’59, LL.M. ’69 (University Press of New England, $24.95). Take this legal thriller, set in Boston, to the beach at once.