Must Read Book

Silverman, Debora, Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art (2000).

Debora Silverman is an historian at UCLA, but she is also an accomplished connoisseur of art and practitioner of art history. This book transcends disciplinary categories, and may be missed by historians since it appears to be an art catalogue or "simply" a work of art criticism. But it is a deeply historical account of the relationship of Van Gogh and Gauguin, situating their work and their brief but intense relationship in the context of their Protestant and Catholic cultures. But what is most remarkable about the book is the way in which the images (beautifully reproduced), are related to the text and to the argument. This is really a new form of image-based history, and it is worth thinking about seriously for what it says about historical methodology. It is also a great pleasure to read -- but it is a very expensive book.

Recommended by Stanley N. Katz, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. President Emeritus, American Council of LearnedSocieties. Has worked in a variety of historical fields, beginning with colonial America, then American legal history, and more recently in the history of philanthropy, and of constitutionalism and civil society.