Noteworthy paperbacks

The Problem Of Slavery In The Age Of Emancipation by David Brion Davis. (Vintage) This final volume in an exceptional trilogy on slavery in the Western Hemisphere focuses on 19th-century trans-Atlantic abolitionism and, in particular, the intellectual and theological origins of the anti-slavery movement in America. Davis explores how the Haitian Revolution respectively terrified and inspired white and black Americans, and examines the significance of the colonization project to move freed slaves back to Africa.

The Man Who Walked Away by Maud Casey. (Bloomsbury) Loosely based on the psychiatric case history of 19th-century Frenchman Albert Dadas, whose mental illness compelled him to walk, in a fugue state, hundreds of miles across Europe, this rhapsodic novel imagines his wanderings and the anguish that caused him to seek treatment. “The sense of time and place is particular, apt, elegant,” Geraldine Brooks wrote here.

Rembrandt's Eyes by Simon Schama. (Penguin, $35.) Interweaving detailed interpretations of the artist’s paintings with a vivid history of 17th-century Holland – Rembrandt’s life, times and contemporaries – Schama makes clear why Rembrandt continues to exert such a hold on our imagination.

Chance by Kem Nunn. (Scribner) Nunn has built his literary reputation on suspense stories in California’s subcultures. His title character here is Eldon Chance, a San Francisco psychiatrist with a predilection for rash decisions. The worst of these is his impulse to bed one of his patients, an alluring woman suffering from multiple personality disorder and on the run from an abusive husband who happens to be a ruthless police detective.

Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro. (Simon & Schuster) Lamb-Shapiro is an entertaining guide to the history and practice of self-help – from the tracts of Marcus Aurelius through Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” up to and including “The Secret.” But this is also a deeply felt memoir about the author’s complicated relationship with her father, a child psychologist, forged in the wake of her mother’s mysterious death.

New York Times