Image of Books by Adam Stern, Katie Crouch, and Jeff Shesol
Photo: Erik Gould
The Arts

Fresh Ink
Books by Adam Stern ’06, Katie Crouch ’95, and Jeff Shesol ’91

By Edward Hardy / November–December 2021
November 1st, 2021

Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training by Adam Stern ’06 (HMH)

Adam Stern grew up in a family of doctors, but he arrived at Harvard for a four-year psychiatry residency with a powerful case of imposter syndrome. Stern recounts how he navigated past that anxious start. Thrown into an already whirling clinical world, with patients confronting sometimes solvable, sometimes baffling issues, Stern does a fine job highlighting the constant uncertainty and the emotional toll when things go wrong. It’s also the story of bonding with fellow residents, including a simmering romance with a classmate who eventually becomes his partner.

Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch ’95 (FSG)

In this lively, funny-sad read you’ll meet Amanda Evans, a 41- year-old expat whose husband persuaded her to flee her California tech job and parachute into Windhoek, Namibia, with him. You’ll also meet the shiny Persephone Wilder, who also followed her husband, an embassy lawyer, to Africa, and Mila Shilongo, the wife of Namibia’s minister of transportation. All the women’s children attend the same international school and all their husbands have secrets. Slyly entertaining (there’s a doomed rhino-saving scheme, among other twists) and more complicated than a romp, Crouch’s sixth novel will leave readers thinking about “white savior complex” and the frustrating legacies of colonialism.

Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy and the New Battleground of the Cold War by Jeff Shesol ’91 (Norton)

In this page-turning history Shesol recasts the birth of NASA and the Mercury program not as a great leap forward in humanity’s quest to explore the universe but as a crucial front in the Cold War, as there were fears that the Soviet Union would one day have nuclear weapons in space. At the same time, Shesol gives readers a newly layered picture of John Glenn, who turns out to be far more ambitious and complicated than the straight-arrow hero he’s often portrayed as. A deeply researched read that’s difficult to put down.

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Related Issue
November–December 2021