A Liberal Education (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
Abbott "Tom" Gleason was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just before New England was ambushed by the famous 1938 hurricane. He grew up surrounded by professors and bureaucrats, so his bias toward statist liberalism was perfectly predictable. He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he taught history at Brown University for many years. He is an avid jazz fan and is interested in balladry and folk tales as well. He is married to Sarah Caperton Fischer (Gleason). They have two children, Nicholas Abbott Gleason and Margaret Holliday Gleason, and two grandchildren. Louis is their dog.
“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.” —William Taubman, 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.” —John Dittmer, Winner of Bancroft Prize for Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi