“Abbott (Tom) Gleason's wonderfully wise and self-knowing memoir encompasses far more than his distinguished career as an historian of Russia and totalitarianism. A chronicle of a proper youth in Cambridge and Washington, undergraduate and graduate education at Harvard, the civil rights movement, the sixties, and academic life (intellectual and otherwise) over the last half century, A Liberal Education is charming, witty, ironic and touching.”
Winner of Pulitzer Prize and
National Book Critics Circle Award for
Khruschev: The Man and His Era
“Tom Gleason takes us on a spirited journey from the hallowed halls of Harvard to the dusty roads of Mississippi, and beyond, to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union. This fascinating, funny, and poignant memoir also provides a fresh—and irreverent—portrait of the world of academe in the second half of the twentieth century.”
Winner of Bancroft Prize for Local People:
The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
“Tom Gleason has written a masterpiece of a memoir. With a novelist's nuance and a historian's precision, he has delivered a book that Henry Adams would have been proud to call his own—if he had been born a century later and been much, much funnier.”
Author of Ark of Liberties
presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton and
director of John Carter Brown Library
“Through every vicissitude—boyhood, Harvard in the Fifties, the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, marriage and child-rearing, academe and old age—Gleason has remained true to the liberal's existential imperative of reconciling “freedom” and “commitment”. . . the liberal [can] pick a side (knowing the other is seldom all wrong) or . . . make peace. This fine and moving memoir is an invitation, and inspiration, to live a perilous adventure of the mind. A Liberal Education had an extraordinary grip on me.”
Author of Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America
and a former editor of The Paris Review
Published in: 2010
Hard Cover • 432 pages
(In Stock Now)
Thoughtful, funny, pointed and honest, A Liberal Education is an insightful scholar's memoir of the generation that came of age in the late fifties—an opaque generation hinged between the conformist fifties and the rebellious late sixties.
Born into a family of historians, Abbott Gleason earned his liberal education on the streets of Cambridge, at a family farm in northeastern Connecticut, in the jazz clubs of Washington as a schoolboy in the fifties. He learned about a larger world from his Harvard roommates and from the students at Tougaloo College in the summer of 1964. He employed his education in the professional study of Russia and the Soviet Union, as a professor of history at Brown University and during a stint in Washington, D.C., as Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. But his most important teachers were his own family members.
Combining first-hand insights into the evolution of Russian studies in America and poignant reflections on his contested relationship with his Cold Warrior father, Gleason has struck a refreshing balance between scholarly assessment and a highly personal story—always with candor, fairness and good humor. A Liberal Education should convince the skeptics that accomplished academics can lead rich and questioning lives. Abbott Gleason's memoir offers brilliant and consistently engaging evidence that professors are—or can be—very human both inside academia and on the streets outside.