Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Charles W. Eliot - Winner, Biography, 1931

Charles W. Eliot
By: Henry James
Houghton Mifflin, 1930

NOTE**This will probably be my last entry until after Christmas. There is just too much going on! I will continue reading over the break, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas!**

Now, to the matter at hand - Charles W. Eliot. Eliot was the youngest man to ever be appointed president of Harvard, at age 35, and remained in that office for 40 years. From his earliest days in the position Eliot worked diligently to completely overhaul the structure of the nation's oldest university. He moved Harvard forward from its focus on classical training to more rounded training that would include the sciences - a change vital for education in the Industrial Age and for keeping up with education offered in Europe.

James's biography, in two volumes, is well written and interesting to read. While it might be a bit long-winded, James does not spend vast amounts of time discussing technical items or deep philosophical themes. This makes the book a relatively easy (though not quick) read for even those who are unfamiliar with educational reform in the late-Nineteenth century. I'm not sure that I can really pinpoint exactly who might like to read this book. Perhaps someone who is studying the history of educational reform, especially higher education? Or maybe a die-hard Harvard alum?

2 comments:

Emily said...

While I am with your thinking on who the potential readers of this book might be, I have to say that hiring a 35 year old for such a responsibility seems rather progressive. Sounds interesting!

Adrian said...

I'm just proud that you knew yourself well enough to say, "I'm not going to be able to finish a book before Christmas." I'm already feeling the guilt that I won't have a book done by the time I have to give it back to its owners. Book guilt is one of the worst. ;)

By the way, our family blog is adrianmaddox.blogspot.com. Just so you know.