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This, ""The Story of the Agassiz Family of Boston,"" again incorporates the New England, properly Bostonian, atmosphere of the late 19th century, and persons from other biographies (The Peabody Sisters of Salem, Three Saints and a Sinner, etc.) are part of the story of Swiss-born Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz and his second wife Elizabeth Cabot Cary and the strenuous, successful marriage that they knew. Here is her Cary and Perkins background with the parallel picture of Agassiz' early life in Europe and his first marriage. The threads come together when Elizabeth's mother, at first sight, elects Agassiz as the husband for her daughter -- not knowing he was already married. There is a vivid sense of the forcefulness of Agassiz' personality, his absorbed but shared enthusiasm for science and his talents for attracting funds necessary to his projects; his early misadventures in the United States, and, with the death of his first wife, his marriage to Lizzie; and of her winning the love of his three children. Then on to Agassiz' tremendous contributions to Harvard; the expeditions on which Lizzie, the untravelled, accompanied him; their home in Cambridge which was always a meeting place for other professors, students and, for a time, a school; and their other home at Nahant which was also a laboratory. Lizzie's life was not ended when Agassiz died for there was a new school project in the making, which after years of delicate and diplomatic maneuvering, became Radcliffe College with Lizzie as its first President. As in her other books, Mrs. Tharp here effects a successful amalgam of detailed family life with an equal concentration on professional progress while viewing her subjects with more than a little personal affection and her results are definitely satisfactory, substantial -- and enjoyable.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1959
Publisher: Little, Brown