The title of Nathaniel Philbrick’s slim new meditation foregrounds the questions at the heart of every assignment made by every English teacher: Why read this book? Or that book? For that matter, why do we assign reading in the first place?
Once upon a time, there was a large, wealthy and powerful country that wanted to help a smaller, struggling, powerless country find a pathway into a more stable, democratic, freedom-loving and civilized future.
To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Mark Twain's death, a crack team of editors at the massive Mark Twain Project at the University of California-Berkeley, headed by Harriet Elinor Smith, has produced the first of three volumes of the definitive Autobiography of Mark Twain. It quickly rose to the top of the best-seller lists.
When my wife and I see news reports about the deaths of young people, as we did after the grisly slaughter at Virginia Tech last April, we inevitably think back to June 1999, when we lost our son, Daniel. He was a healthy, jovial and playful boy, and his sudden, unexpected death was devastating.
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