ROBERT MAYNARD HUTCHINS

A MEMOIR

A biography/memoir of the extraordinary Hutchins—educational reformer, administrative genius, Great Books mentor, academic freedom-fighter, and liberal polemicist—that was edited by Hicks (formerly, English/UMass at Amherst) from 900 pages of a working draft left by Mayer (If Men Were Angels, 1971, etc.) at his death in 1986. Following two years each at Oberlin College, in the Army, and at Yale, Hutchins was appointed at age 23 to the daunting position of Yale's administrative secretary. Though he graduated from the university's law school in 1925 and taught law for two years, he hadn't even taken the bar exam when he was named dean of Yale Law in 1927. And he topped that by becoming president of the University of Chicago at the age of 30. As Mayer repeatedly notes, Hutchins felt he was a failure at most things and, despite his reforms and innovations and his astonishing fund-raising ability, ``never did get the college he wanted.'' As the force behind the controversial ``Hutchins Plan,'' which would evolve over his 26 years at Chicago, he revitalized undergraduate programs by taking them out of the hands of graduate assistants; battled specialization and departmentalization in favor of an idealistic university of interrelated studies; amazingly, convinced the school's governing board to drop intercollegiate football; instituted comprehensive degree-examinations for students who felt they were ready; and fashioned a modern pass/fail system. Throughout his tenure, Hutchins taught a history of ideas course that led to his chairmanship of the Great Books Foundation and, later, his stewardship of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. As founder of the Center of the Study for Democratic Institutions and president of the Fund for the Republic—a powerful anti-McCarthy organization- -Hutchins's influence was felt, and his wisdom sought, from the classroom to the Oval Office. Mayer (for decades an aide and ``hired hand'' to Hutchins) does his old friend justice in this admiring but critical biography. (Sixteen illustrations)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-520-07091-7

Page Count: 550

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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