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BooklistA spirited academic history sure to attract numerous nonacademic readers.
— Bryce Christensen
When Josiah Quincy adopted the word veritas (meaning truth) as Harvard’s motto in the mid-nineteenth century, he saw the mission of the college as seeking new knowledge in order to come closer to God. It was a radical proposition. The imperatives of veritas are openness, freedom of thought, clash of opinions, resolution, truth-telling. In Veritas, Andrew Schlesinger traces some of the conflicts in Harvard‘s 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." With this theme in mind, Mr. Schlesinger tells the fascinating story of Harvard College as an American institution. He examines the important actions and decisions of its 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. The tale includes a great many familiar names: Cotton Mather, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, John Hancock, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gould Shaw, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, Henry Adams, William James, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ada Louise Comstock, James Conant, John Kennedy. Mr. Schlesinger punctuates his narrative with a great many marvelous anecdotes: George Burroughs, Class of 1670, condemned as a witch and hung on Gallows Hill; the "Butter Rebellion" of the undergraduates; President Willard receiving a sack of coins from the Charles River Bridge toll as his salary; Teddy Roosevelt getting tipsy at his Porcellian initiation; the l939 Communist cell that included the future Librarian of Congress. The men and women who shaped Harvard and were shaped by it were in many cases fine writers, speechmakers, preachers, journalists, historians, correspondents, diarists, and memoirists, providing a high tone to the proceedings. The history of Harvard is the story of the quintessential American university. With 32 black-and-white illustrations.
|1||The college in the Puritan church-state||3|
|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|
Posted April 9, 2005
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.