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Roger Williams: The Church and the State, by Edmund S. Morgan. New York: Norton. 170 pp. $5.95. Paper. Best remembered as the man who founded a haven of religious toleration in the 17th-century colony of Rhode Island, Roger Williams left a considerable body of writings, often polemical and dauntingly turgid in style. The distinguished historian Edmund S. Morgan concentrates on showing us the ``intricate and beautiful symmetry'' of Williams's ideas on such vital matters as the roles of civil and religious authority, regulation of behavior as distinct from regulation of conscience, and the need for separation of church and state. Professor Morgan places Williams's thought in its Puritan context (the original disagreements that led to his banishment from Massachusetts grew out of his strict interpretation of his religion), while showing us how Williams's intellectual honesty led him to his conclusions. First published in 1967, this book affords us the opportunity, in the author's words, to ``watch Puritan thought exploding, hurling itself outward to its ultimate limits.'' Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution, Revised and Expanded Edition, edited by John A. Garraty. New York: Harper & Row. 391 pp. Illustrated. $10.95.
No, this is not a history of the debates between Federalists and anti-Federalists in Philadelphia; it's a collection of essays on some of the most important Supreme Court cases, from Marbury v. Madison to Roe v. Wade. Each essay provides a concise, lively, clearly explained account of the actual people and events involved in the litigation and a cogent summary of the thinking that went into the court's decision - not to mention the justices' equally famed dissents, which sometimes proved more prescient. Five new cases have been added to this edition for a total of 20 essays by 20 hands, which include Allan Nevins, C. Vann Woodward, Henry R. Graff, and Anthony Lewis. Jacques-Louis David, Revised Edition, by Anita Brookner. New York: Thames and Hudson, dist. by Norton. 223 pp. Illustrated. $18.95.
The currents of history and art history are abundantly evident in the life and work of the French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), who took an active (some might say hyperactive) part in the French Revolution, painted heroic pictures of subjects as ancient as the death of Socrates and as contemporary as the assassination of Marat, and who also served as Napoleon's official painter. This gracefully written, thoughtful study by art historian and novelist Anita Brookner, first published in 1980 and now reissued with a new preface, delves into the matrix of influences - aesthetic, critical, political, philosophical, personal, and historical - that shaped David's work. In addition to being an incisive and judicious critic, Brookner is imbued with the fire of enthusiasm for her subject, whom she commends for his ability to ``remain emotionally alive,'' never succumbing ``to cynicism or the routine of the second-hand,'' always able ``to see the world ... afresh, either in its tragedy or in its hope.'' Italian Labyrinth: Italy in the 1980s, by John Haycraft. New York: Viking Penguin. 314 pp. $6.95.
To some, Italy means history, art, opera, churches, or sunshine: the quintessential land of romance, the south so dear to the hearts of northern travelers, tourists, artists, and exiles. But in addition to all this, modern Italy is alive and well and bristling with its very particular mix of institutions, customs, conflicts, and means of coping with them. Haycraft, a Briton who has had a long acquaintance with Italy, describes the success of small businesses, the distrust of organizations, the strength of family ties, the effects of new-style feminism and old-style machismo on sexual attitudes, the role of the Roman Catholic Church, of the Mafia, and the legacy of Mussolini. He is also a knowledgeable guide to Italian politics. Haycraft draws on personal experience, interviews, and casual conversations, yet also makes excellent use of others who have written about Italy. Picture History of the Normandie, with 190 illustrations, by Frank O. Braynard. New York: Dover Publications. 144 pp. $9.95. (paperback original).
Along with her British cousins, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, the French Line Normandie was one of the three largest passenger ships ever built. The Normandie was also a showplace for French design and craftsmanship, featuring huge murals, tapestries, bas-relief sculpture, and specially designed carpets, fixtures, and furnishings; a veritable floating monument to the sleekly elegant art deco style so prevalent in the 1930s. The striking, sharply detailed black-and-white photographs in this book by a leading authority on the vanished world of ocean liners recount the story of the great ship from its construction to its infuriatingly needless destruction by fire during a wartime conversion in 1942. Also shown: the dramatic, very difficult salvage scrapping of a ship that could no longer be used.