The cover of Peter Stearns’s book gets your attention. It portrays an iconic mid-20th-century television mother who seems either to be gripped by a migraine or on the threshold of an “I’m losing my mind” scream. But this is not another in the long list of advice-to-parents literature; rather, it explores what such literature says about the past century’s attitudes toward parenting. Stearns contends that parents are deeply influenced by popular trends in the advice-giving industry—from Skinner/Watson behaviorism to Parenting magazine, Dr. Spock and T. Berry Brazelton.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).