Veritas: Harvard College and the American Experience

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Overview

"In Veritas, Andrew Schlesinger tells the story of Harvard College by tracing the conflicts in its history between the forces of veritas and the inertial forces, the impediments to truth - sectarianism, statism, aristocracy, racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, the "shackles of ancient discipline." This theme forms the thread of Mr. Schlesinger's fascinating chronicle of Harvard as an American institution." In episodic fashion, with a large measure of wit, he examines the important actions and decisions of Harvard's leadership from Puritan times to the present, and provides lively details of its college life since 1636. There was no guarantee that Harvard would become a great university. But the commitment to veritas compelled the institution to change in the face of new knowledge or cease to be. Mr. Schlesinger's book is about how Harvard changed.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
A spirited academic history sure to attract numerous nonacademic readers.
— Bryce Christensen
History News Network
Along with a knack for the occasional well-turned phrase, Schlesinger has an eye for the telling episode.
— Luther Spoehr
Fore Word Magazine
Essential reading. . . . Deft use of apposite quotation and telling vignette enhance his remarkably rich narrative.
— Peter Skinner
Boston Globe
Andrew Schlesinger fills his Veritas with hundreds of anecdotes and vignettes linking Harvard to the nation's political and intellectual life.
— Kenney, Michael
Harvard Crimson
Impeccable . . . Veritas is a compelling and relevant tale of Harvard's history.
— Matthew J. Kan
ForeWord Reviews
Essential reading. . . . Deft use of apposite quotation and telling vignette enhance his remarkably rich narrative.
— Peter Skinner
The Boston Globe
Andrew Schlesinger fills his Veritas with hundreds of anecdotes and vignettes linking Harvard to the nation's political and intellectual life.
— Michael Kenney
Register of The Kentucky Historical Society
Schlesinger's Veritas stands out in the crowd for its wit and lack of pretense about his alma mater.
Matthew J. Kan
Impeccable...Veritas is a compelling and relevant tale of Harvard's history.
The Harvard Crimson
Peter Skinner
"Essential reading... Deft use of apposite quotation and telling vignette enhance his remarkably rich narrative."
Fore Word Magazine
Michael Kenney
"Andrew Schlesinger fills his Veritas with hundreds of anecdotes and vignettes linking Harvard to the nation’s political and intellectual life."
Boston Globe
Library Journal
A Harvard legacy and alumnus, journalist, and documentary filmmaker, Schlesinger here traces the development of Harvard in the context of social forces in American society in general. As he states, he "attempts to trace some of the conflicts in Harvard's history between the forces of veritas and the inertial forces-the impediments of truth-sectarianism, statism, aristocracy, racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, `the shackles of ancient discipline.' " Schlesinger examines the conflicts between this search for veritas (Latin for "truth" and the motto found on the Harvard seal) and the demands of church affiliation (Harvard was founded in the 17th century to train ministers and the sons of the upper classes), politics (faculty, students, and alumni were heavily involved in the American Revolution), and social change (Harvard moved from being a staunch supporter of the status quo to providing leaders in many protest movements of the 20th century). Tracking Harvard's development in terms of presidencies of the college, he provides insight into how Harvard will continue to provide cutting-edge leadership into the 21st century. Well researched and highly readable, this book will benefit any academic library supporting programs in history and higher education.-Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist and filmmaker Schlesinger, son and grandson of Harvard professors, charts the history of the college in Cambridge from its founding days to the present. At its best, Veritas shows how America changed Harvard and how Harvard changed America. Take the American Revolution: Harvard luminaries played key roles in the fight for liberty, yet, because of a concomitant drop in enrollment and in funds, the Revolution imperiled the college's very existence. Throughout, Schlesinger follows a few intriguing themes: the increasing dependence of the university on federal funds, the expanding place of African-Americans in Harvard Yard, the school's struggles to define the appropriate role of religion in the Harvard experience. And he's to be commended for refusing to paper over some of the uglier aspects of the Harvard past. He describes, for example, the anti-Semitism harbored by many students and administrators during the 1920s. But his interest in the extracurricular activities of future American presidents-that Theodore Roosevelt rode horses and "got intoxicated at least once," that FDR didn't make the football team and golfed instead, that JFK served as chairman of the committee to organize the Freshman Smoker-adds little. Moreover, Schlesinger often misses opportunities to present a sustained interpretation, instead simply stringing together related anecdotes. Consider the chapter called "Harvard and the War Against Slavery." Rather than making an argument about the impact Harvard as an institution had on the political debates of the antebellum era, the author offers a laundry list of alumni and faculty activities during the years before and during the Civil War: several grads helpedfound the Free Soil party, alum Robert Gould Shaw served as colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, President Lincoln's son enrolled at Harvard in 1860 and spent the war years studying Dante and smoking. The result is an exercise in antiquarianism. Still, a nice commencement gift, if, say, your neighbor's kid happens to be graduating from Harvard.
Register Of The Kentucky Historical Society
Schlesinger's Veritas stands out in the crowd for its wit and lack of pretense about his alma mater.
Douglas Brinkley
It's impossible to think or write about the history of the United States without taking into consideration the immense role Harvard University has played in shaping our government and culture. In Veritas journalist Andrew Schlesinger shines a historian's light on this remarkable Ivy League institution. His impeccable scholarship, literary craftsmanship, and analytical savvy is inspired. Highly recommended.
John Kenneth Galbraith
Many have given their views on Harvard; few, if any, have surpassed this splendid account.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Harvard and America have grown up together. Andrew Schlesinger's fascinating book traces that intertwined history and evolution brilliantly.
Booklist - Bryce Christensen
A spirited academic history sure to attract numerous nonacademic readers.
History News Network - Luther Spoehr
Along with a knack for the occasional well-turned phrase, Schlesinger has an eye for the telling episode.
ForeWord Reviews - Peter Skinner
Essential reading. . . . Deft use of apposite quotation and telling vignette enhance his remarkably rich narrative.
The Boston Globe - Michael Kenney
Andrew Schlesinger fills his Veritas with hundreds of anecdotes and vignettes linking Harvard to the nation's political and intellectual life.
Harvard Crimson - Matthew J. Kan
Impeccable . . . Veritas is a compelling and relevant tale of Harvard's history.
Edward M. Kennedy
Harvard and America have grown up together. Andrew Schlesinger's fascinating book traces that intertwined history and evolution brilliantly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566636360
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 6/15/2005
  • Pages: 318
  • Sales rank: 1,015,969
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Schlesinger is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Class of 1970, and a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts. His forefathers were distinguished professors of American history at Harvard. As a writer, producer, and documentary filmmaker for ABC, PBS, CNN and elsewhere, Mr. Schlesinger has received two Emmy Awards, a Writers Guild Award, and a Christopher Award.

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Table of Contents

1 The college in the Puritan church-state 3
2 Born again? 25
3 Revolutionary times 40
4 Harvard and the new nation 60
5 President Quincy meets President Jackson 80
6 Harvard and the war against slavery 98
7 President Eliot's Harvard 122
8 Harvard and the outside men 152
9 Harvard against the totalitarians 177
10 The last "great rebellion" 207
11 The transformations of race and gender 240
12 The university of the future 265
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2005

    Superb history of America's most important educational institution

    The story of Harvard's engagement with the intellectual and social forces transforming our nation since long before the Revolution is a riveting account of America's moral evolution. Writing with easy authority, and a fine eye for the telling detail, Schlesinger allows the facts to speak for themselves, and the picture of the intellectual center of the United States struggling with its most fundamental contradictions illustrates important battles that continue into our own time. A superb book, whose interest extends far beyond the Harvard community.

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