Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World

Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World

by Matt Burriesci

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Dead White Guys is a timely defense of the great books, arriving in the middle of a national debate about the fate of these books in high schools and universities around the country. Burriesci shows how the great books can enrich our lives as individuals, as citizens, and in our careers. Extending the argument first made by Anna Quinndlen's on the act of reading itself, How Reading Changed My Life," ("It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light,) Burriesci reminds us all of the enormous impact reading has on our lives. After his daughter was born prematurely in 2010, Burriesci set out to write a book about 26 Great Books, from Plato to Karl Marx, and how their lessons have applied to his life. As someone who has spent a long and successful career advocating for great literature, Burriesci defends the great books in this series of tender and candid letters, rich in personal experience and full of humor. Matt Burriesci is a national literary leader, serving as Executive Director of both PEN/Faulkner, which bestows the largest peer-juried prize for fiction

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632280268
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication date: 06/09/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,066,946
File size: 635 KB

About the Author

Matthew Burriesci's fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines. From 1999-2011, he served in various capacities at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), including the organization’s acting executive director. From 1997-1999 he served as the marketing manager for the Tony Award–winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. He received his B.A. in English and rhetoric from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, studied Shakespeare during an honors seminar at Oxford University, and received his M.F.A. from George Mason University in 2002. He lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Preface: Dear Violet vii

1 What Do I Know? Plato, Apology 1

2 When is it Right to Do the Wrong Thing? Plato, Crito 11

3 Have We Become Gods? Aristophanes, The Clouds 17

4 Is There Any Justice in the World? Plato, Republic 27

5 What is Happiness? Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I 41

6 Is the Customer King? Aristotle, Politics, Book I 49

7 Who Should Be in Charge? Plutarch, The Life of Lycurgns 59

8 The State as Church Plutarch, The Life of Numa Pompilius 69

9 Punch the Bully in the Face Plutarch, The Life of Alexander 77

10 Hubris Plutarch, The Life of Julius Caesar 89

11 What Would Jesus Do? St. Matthew, The Gospel of Jesus Christ 97

12 Can People Change? St. Luke, The Acts of the Apostles 101

13 How Can God Let Bad Things Happen? St. Augustine, The Confessions 107

14 Do The Ends Justify the Means? Machiavelli, The Prince 115

15 What's Your Major? Montaigne, Of the Education of Children 125

16 Is America Exceptional? Montaigne, Of Cannibals 131

17 Why Am I Afraid? Montaigne, That the Relish of Good and Evil Depends in Great Measure Upon the Opinion We Have of Them 137

18 What Don't I Know? Montaigne, That It Is Folly to Measure Truth and Error by Our Own Capacity 143

19 What If Life Is Meaningless? William Shakespeare, Hamlet 151

20 What Is Government For? John Locke, Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government 163

21 What's Best For Everyone? Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract 175

22 Are Gods Immortal? Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapters 15-16 185

23 What Are "American Values"? Various, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, The Declaration of Independence 197

24 Your Rights* *Subject To Change at Any Time. Various, The Constitution of the United States 203

25 Is Greed Good? Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations 215

26 Does Capitalism Work? Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party 227

Bibliography 247

About the Author 250

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Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish I had said these things to my daughter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Today most do not read the classics of world history and culture. We rebel. We think it is boring. We believe it is no longer relevant and read current literature as required reading. THIS BOOK EXPLAINS WHY WE SHOULD READ THE OLD CLASSICS like Plato, Locke, and Rousseau. If nothing else read this book to familiarize yourself with the philosophy that makes the US the US. I found this book informative. It helped to connect some dots on US colonial and post revolutionary history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed. Deserves a reread, which is rare for me of this type of book.