Loving Elephants, the Meaning of Life, a London History and More Recent Books

A pioneering elephant rescuer looks back on the loves of her life and a collection of essays investigates the history of happiness

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick (Ellen Weinstein)
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Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces
by Alex MacLean

The New York City rooftop is perhaps the most rarified space in the American landscape—a precious plot, high above the fray, but still connected to the hustle and bustle below. Skyscrapers can be built layer upon layer, multiplying available square footage, but rooftop acreage will never exceed the footprint of the city. Swooping through the New York City airspace, Massachusetts-based photographer and pilot Alex MacClean snapped stunning shots of this usually invisible landscape, revealing a kind of “floating city” as architect Robert Campbell puts it in his introduction. We’re voyeurs when we look at these photos; there’s a woman sunbathing topless, another gardening in his shorts, clusters of young beautiful things sipping cocktails. But the photos shine in less risqué ways as well. Fields of mature vegetation on the tops of tony old apartment buildings make up an urban canopy. Basketball courts, putting greens, and plastic blow-up swimming pools reveal an elevated playground for children of all ages. These pictures allude to the millions of lives lived below—the hidden drama of the city—but they are also visually striking in their own right, an aerial patchwork of widely varying worlds.

About Chloe Schama
Chloe Schama

Chloe Schama is deputy editor of the New Republic and writes regularly about books for Smithsonian magazine. She recently published Wild Romance, a critically acclaimed nonfiction account of a Victorian-era marriage scandal.

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