Harvard Headlines: Fiction by E.O. Wilson, David Cutler on Healthcare, and More

Our roundup also includes a New Yorker profile of U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan and a review of the work of architect Jeanne Gang, both Harvard graduates.

The New Yorker in recent weeks has been full of items with Crimson connections. Last week's issue (dated February 1) had two:

  • Architecture critic Paul Goldberger's glowing review of the work of Jeanne Gang, M.Arch. ’93, including the new Aqua apartment tower in Chicago, which, Goldberger writes, "reclaims the notion that thrilling and beautiful form can still emerge out of the realm of the practical"; and
  • Carlo Rotella's profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ’86, which tells how he's shaking up notions of how Democratic education secretaries should operate, and describes the controversy that still surrounds his tenure as chief executive of the public school system in Chicago. (See also "School CEO," Harvard Magazine's 2002 profile of Duncan.)

The previous week (the issue dated January 26) carried one other Harvard-related item: Pellegrino University Professor emeritus Edward O. Wilson's début novel, Anthill, is due out in April, and the New Yorker published "Trailhead," a short story taken from the novel. Drawing on Wilson's career in evolutionary biology, the story chronicles the rise and fall of an ant colony, and it somehow manages to combine clinical ("On landing, he had used the large claspers at the rear end of his body to hold their genitalia together as he completed the insemination") with stunningly lyrical. For more on (and by) Wilson (who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction), see "Of Ants and Earth," Harvard Magazine's 2003 profile of Wilson; "Intelligent Evolution," the magazine's reprinting of Wilson's introductions to a new edition of Charles Darwin's writings, published in 2005; "Stinging the Dinosaurs," an excerpt from his 2008 book, The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies, co-written with Bert Hölldobler; and "The Coherence of Knowledge," his speech given at Harvard in 1998 as the Phi Beta Kappa oration. See also this Q&A with Wilson from the New Yorker website.

And on New Year's Eve, the New Yorker posted on its website a 20-minute video of business columnist James Surowiecki's interview with Eckstein professor of applied economics David Cutler, whom Surowiecki calls "the most important healthcare economist in the United States today." Cutler, who advised the Obama campaign on healthcare, explains the differences between the House and Senate healthcare bills—and what's missing from both.


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