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This is Donaldson’s own last will and testament to the Age of the Book, issued from beyond the cusp of the electronic revolution that has laid it to rest forever
To write an honest biography, but also an artful one, Donaldson has adopted the tactic of purposefully exposing his own dishonestly.
Death of a Rebel is a crowning achievement for a biographer who has qualified again and again as one of our best. Had Fenton lived, he surely would have retracted his lacerating judgment. We can be certain that it has not been permanently dislodged from Donaldson’s mind.
By combing through the university’s teaching evaluations and conducting interviews with many of Fenton’s students, Donaldson has amassed a great deal of eloquent and specific testimony to Fenton’s skill and popularity in the classroom
What is best about Death of a Rebel is that it gives us, convincingly and in depth, all the available, mostly first-hand, evidence we need to determine an answer while at the same time permitting the reader to draw his own conclusions. That this conclusion, whatever it may be, will be securely based on reliable evidence clearly and objectively presented, is the greatest tribute one can pay to this fine biography. In the end, while Charlie Fenton’s life was extraordinary in many respects, Donaldson’s book makes clear that we definitively assess and simplify any life at our peril.
Donaldson’s biography pays a debt of gratitude to a professor who inspired him in the classroom, guided him through a senior thesis, and exemplified a career he could emulate, but mystified him by committing suicide at forty years of age.
The Young Academic
Hemingway vs. Fenton
Carving a Career
A Different Planet
Sailing through Air
What Might Have Been
Notes on Sources
A Charles A. Fenton Bibliography
Other Works Consulted