The Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University, Leo Damrosch has illuminated the lives and writings of figures from Samuel Johnson to Alexander Pope in his scholarly works. But it was his longtime fascination with an infamous Swiss philosopher that resulted in the National Book Award-nominated masterpiece, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius.
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Also Known As:
Leopold Damrosch, Jr.
Date of Birth:
September 14, 1941
Place of Birth:
B.A., Yale University, 1963; M.A. Cambridge University, 1966; Ph.D., Princeton University, 1968
|2005 National Book Award Finalist|
|Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius|
"Witty, pungent, and erudite, Leo Damrosch’s Rousseau renders one of the most canonical figures in Western literary and political thought into a full-bodied human, flawed, glorious, searching, and bold," note the National Book Award judges. "Damrosch gives to our times a vital and searing biography of the eighteenth-century founder of autobiography, the author of The Social Contract, and a complicated man whose daring, passionate ideas confound, please, and vex us still."
|In the Works|
|"Having just finished a ten-year commitment to Rousseau, I’m 'in between,' " Damrosch explained when we asked him what projects are up next. "I have some thoughts of developing a book that would grow from my family’s experiences in the Philippines, where my father was a missionary and where my earliest years were spent in a Japanese internment camp from which we were lucky to emerge alive."|
|A Short History of Nearly Everything|
"I enjoy books that make science exciting and accessible," Damrosch explained when we asked him to tell us about some of his favorite books. He recommends Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which, he says, "shows how often the great breakthroughs in science were scoffed at by the experts of the day."
|Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies|
Damrosch also recommends Jared Diamond's "powerful account of how geographical circumstances and the availability of certain plants and animals had everything to do with where and why civilization developed." Read our interview with Damrosch to learn about more of his best-loved books, including:
|Photo by David Carmak||