The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building, edited by John Y. Cole and Henry Hope Reed '38 (Norton, $60). The Library of Congress building marked its centennial last year after an $80-million restoration. Part of the celebration was this sumptuous volume exploring what is arguably the most beautifully decorated building in the United States.
Portrait of Dr. Gachet: The Story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece, by Cynthia Saltzman '71 (Viking, $25.95). Weeks before his suicide, van Gogh painted a portrait of the doctor who was trying to treat him. The artist sought to capture, he said, "the heartbroken expression of our time." A hundred years later, in 1990, the painting sold at auction for $82.5 million, the most ever paid at a public sale for a work of art. Saltzman, a former reporter for Forbes, has written an entire book about the public life of this picture. It concerns modernism, money, politics, collectors, dealers, taste, greed, and loss, and it makes lively reading.
False Hopes: Why America's Quest for Perfect Health Is a Recipe for Failure, by Daniel Callahan, Ph.D. '65 (Simon & Schuster, $23). Organizational reforms and new financing schemes will not meet today's health-care crisis. We must change our expectations that medicine will deliver cures for all disease and indefinitely extend lifespans. Callahan, director of international programs at a bioethics research institute, proposes "preventing and treating diseases that afflict the many rather than the few, improving the quality of life of the elderly and the chronically ill, and focusing our resources on primary care and public health measures."
Mayhem: Violence as Public Entertainment, by Sissela Bok, Ph.D. '70, distinguished fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (Addison-Wesley, $22). We let our four-year-olds watch slasher movies on TV perhaps because we im- agine ourselves having to choose between uncontrolled violent programming and censorship. We don't, says Bok, advising readers on how to take action at home and in the public arena.
A Guide to Monastic Guest Houses, third edition (including every state and all Canadian provinces), by Robert J. Regalbuto, A.B.E. '80 (Morehouse, $17.95, paper). If you seek tranquility in Cambridge, for instance, the Monastery of St. Mary and St. John at 980 Memorial Drive accommodates 16 guests in single rooms in a guest house. Each room has a sink; toilets and showers are nearby. The Society of St. John the Evangelist (Episcopal) suggests a donation of $50 for the room, three meals, and much silence.
Motorcycle Journeys through Baja, by Clement Salvadori '62 (Whitehorse Press, $19.95, paper). Silence not your thing? Follow your front wheel to Baja in the enlightening company of a Harvardian journalist on the biker beat.
The Handsome Sailor, by Larry Duberstein, A.M. '71 (Permanent Press, $25). A fictional record of Herman Melville's romantic life. Writes biographer Theodore Rosengarten, Ph.D. '75: "Truer than biography, this beautifully imagined, darkly comic novel reconstructs the lost years and landlocked heart of America's greatest writer. Melville meets his confessor in a triumph of prose art."
The Discipline of Hope: Learning from a Lifetime of Teaching, by Herbert Kohl '58 (Simon & Schuster, $24). Bracing stuff, from a preeminent educator, for teachers and all who care about other people's children.
The War against Parents: What We Can Do for America's Beleaguered Moms and Dads, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, G '68, and Cornel West '74, G '76 (Houghton Mifflin, $24). Hewlett is president of the National Parenting Association. West is professor of the philosophy of religion and of Afro-American studies. "They propose," writes Carol Gilligan, Ph.D. '64, Graham professor of gender studies at the School of Education, "a Marshall Plan to rebuild families devastated by social and economic policies and by the racial and gender divisions which this book symbolically ends."
The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution?, by Linda Killian, M.P.A. '90 (HarperCollins/Westview, $28). Chronicling the 104th Congress, journalist Killian focuses on its 73 Republican freshmen, Newt's "storm troopers," and shows through their eyes how power is used in this democracy.
Liberalism and Its Discontents, by Alan Brinkley, Ph.D. '79 (Harvard University Press, $27.95). Brinkley, a Columbia professor, offers both a history of liberalism since the 1930s and a critique of how that history was explained (or not) by historians before him. He finds liberalism far more complex and far less stable than it is usually portrayed.
Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men, edited by DeWitt Henry, Ph.D. '71, and James Alan McPherson, LL.B. '68 (Beacon Press, $24). Men have written plenty about being fathers to sons, but few have explored profoundly their relationships with their daughters. Nineteen good writers do that here, Henry and McPherson among them.
The Long Rain, by Peter Gadol '86 (Picador USA, $23). In California wine country, a good man accidentally commits a terrible crime, lies about it, and seeks redemption. This is Gadol's fourth novel.
Seasons of Learning: Talks to Graduates on Life After College, by V.A. Howard (Praeger, $49.95). Howard examines what happens when one goes from learning for oneself to learning for work. The co-director of the Philosophy of Education Research Center at Harvard goes on to address such fundamental questions as: "Must I have a mission in life?" "Must I give up my real interests to make a buck?" "What becomes of me in all this?" One of the graduates he talks with is Glenn Kaye, J.D. '87, from whose article "Free of the Law" (Harvard Magazine, January-February 1992, page 60) he quotes extensively.
What Gardens Mean, by Stephanie Ross, Ph.D. '77 (University of Chicago Press, $40). Ross is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She brings that discipline to bear on her study of the lure of gardens. Tiny print on the copyright page reveals, "She has published articles in various areas of aesthetics; an airedale and a basset hound thwart her attempts to garden."
Essential Sufism, edited by James Fadiman '60 and Robert Frager, Ph.D. '67 (HarperCollins, $20). An anthology of writings by Sufi saints and sages, the mystics of Islam, viz. Bayazid Bistami's "The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it."