Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Abbott Gleason -- Discussion of his Memoir: 'A Liberal Education'

Monday, March 1, 2010

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

More Information

Join Brown History Professor Emeritus Abbott (Tom) Gleason in a reading and discussion of his newly published memoir, A Liberal Education (Tidepool Press, February 2010). Open Source host Christopher Lydon will lead the book panel, which will also include a broader discussion by Ted Widmer, director of the John Carter Brown Library, on memoirs and the art of writing them.

Gleason, a long-time member of the Watson Institute's administration and faculty, has been a Brown professor for over 40 years. His academic specialties include Russian history and Cold War studies. The memoir touches on these and many other interests, including jazz in the 1950s, civil rights in the '60s, and the evolution of the academic world over the last half century.

A Liberal Education
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 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.

A book signing will precede the panel.

Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street