Book Blurbs

Lying on the Couch , Irvin D. Yalom, Professor of Psychiatry, BasicBooks, 1996; $25 (fiction) .

Two San Francisco psychotherapists with opposing styles are at the  center of this novel: Ernest Lash, an unconventional idealist and his supervisor, Marshal Streider, a stickler for the prescribed rules of therapy. Lash's methods backfire when a woman patient who perceives him as meddling in her disastrous marriage sets out to sabotage his career. Streider's downfall comes when he crosses ethical lines and seeks to get rich by investing with one of his patients. The plot streams come together for the major theme of the book: whether a therapist can ever know if a patient is telling the truth or "lying" on the couch.

Four Corners: History, Land and People of the Desert Southwest, Kenneth A. Brown, '82, BS '83, HarperCollins, 1996; $25(natural history).

Just five decades ago, the deserts of the Colorado Plateau were  regarded as barren wasteland best suited for reservoirs and radioactive dumps. Today, the fabled Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico draws millions of visitors who hike its canyons, photograph its delicately tinted sandstone and breathe its air of mystery. Brown, who spent a year trekking the region, chronicles the shifting of its landscape and the succession of its peoples--Anasazi, Utes, Navajos, Spaniards, Mormons and tourists. He worries about the land's fate: "The conflicting demands being placed upon it today for water, work and play seem to be pushing the land here to the point of exhaustion."

In Black and White: Race and Sports in America , Kenneth L. Shropshire, '77, New York University Press, 1996; $24.95 (race relations) .

The headlines are hard to forget: CBS commentator Jimmy "The  Greek" Snyder saying in 1988 that blacks had "been bred . . . to jump higher and run faster"; Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott in 1993 referring to two star players as "million-dollar niggers." Shropshire begins with such incidents and then lays out the 100-year history of blacks and racism in sports. A lawyer who teaches sports and business law at the Wharton School, Shropshire analyzes Supreme Court decisions and interviews athletes and owners to explain the dearth of African Americans in the front offices of the sports industry. In the end, he calls for aggressive affirmative action programs, community pressure and league-imposed financial sanctions on the most recalcitrant teams.