Lives We Carry with Us

Profiles of Moral Courage

A dozen brilliant portraits by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Andrew Greeley described as a “social scientist, humanist, political activist, psychiatrist, minstrel, wandering storytelling, mystic, wise man, poet dissenter”

“By now most people know Robert Coles. Or for their own sake they ought to. . . . To read his books . . . is to make him a lasting friend.” —The New York Times Book Review

Beginning in 1970 with an engaging in-depth portrait of psychoanalyst and historian Erik Erikson in the pages of the New Yorker, and cresting, most recently, with a compelling book-length sketch of rock icon and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, Robert Coles has made the biographical profile his signature genre.

This important volume pulls together for the first time a diverse cross section of Coles’s profiles, originally published in our premier magazines over the span of five decades but never before collected in book form. In these portraits, Coles finds a way to cross-fertilize his unique gifts: the interpretive dexterity of a renowned psychiatrist, the observational skills of an influential documentarian, and the empathic sensitivity of a great teacher.

Depicting the famous, the lesser known, and the unknown—a tiny African American child threading her way through an ugly brawl of racial epithets in the streets of New Orleans, a middle-aged Cambridge poet facing cancer, an eighty-three-year-old New Mexico mother and wife who finds solace in the secrets of an inscrutable god—Lives We Carry With Us is Robert Coles’s paean to his kinships, a memoir of those guardian spirits who shaped, challenged, and inspired one of the great moral voices of our era.

With portraits of:

  • James Agee
  • Una Anciana
  • Ruby Bridges
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Dorothy Day
  • Erik H. Erikson
  • Anna Freud
  • Dorothea Lange
  • Flannery O’Connor
  • Walker Percy
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Simone Weil
  • William Carlos Williams