March 11, 1996 12:00 PM

by Robert Coles

A pioneering psychiatrist, Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Coles has long distinguished himself as a man with a restless, inquisitive mind and a hugely compassionate heart. This fat collection of essays from the past 30 years shows that his sense of wonder at life’s surprises and fateful turns has deepened with time. While many of his book reviews and much of his social commentary seem dry and dated, the poet in him sings when he relates his case histories of patients who embody all the blessings and curses of being human. Coles knows “how uncharted, sometimes unsatisfactory and occasionally hopeless therapy can be.” But he remains the optimist, always eager for “the chance to take on, with another person, a measure of this world’s pain in the hopes of diminishing it.” (Little, Brown, $25.95)

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