DOCTOR SPOCK: Biography of a Conservative Radical by Lynn Z. Bloom

DOCTOR SPOCK: Biography of a Conservative Radical

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A long, industriously researched biography, the most interesting parts of which deal with the comforts and discomforts of Spock's pediatric work and his youth as the son of an amiably remote New Haven Railroad lawyer and a stem, dominating, spectacularly child-centered mother. The book gives some basis for understanding his social and political views, but explicit treatment is shallow. After achieving conventional collegiate success at Yale, Spock married and his wife introduced him to somewhat more liberal and intellectual circles. The Freudian elements in his professional training meshed with his common-sense disposition, and the new emphasis on studying the normal child and developing preventive psychiatry, resulted in Baby and Child Care. Bloom points out that Spock's so-called ""permissiveness"" was grounded in a sense of morality and good manners which some families lacked and, though denying his responsibility for the excesses of the ""Spock generation,"" Bloom perhaps inadvertently lends some credence to the Agnew accusations. Spock's austere character is pursued through his love of dancing, his dislike of professional infighting, his deliberate avoidance of other people's thoughts ""for fear they might contaminate his own thinking, or that he might plagiarize,"" and his trim ""gravity of style."" When asked, ""Are radical organizations using you?"" Spock replied, ""No, I'm using them equally."" It is obvious that he was never ""radical"" in any general sense -- simply very strenuously acting out his opposition to the war, a position based on conservative reasoning as well as moral firmness. The book should win a good deal of attention; gabby but never indiscreet, it is enjoyable rather than illuminating.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill