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TNR Review of Gleason's Memoir Reflects on Academics and Public Service

March 14, 2011

Academics’ choice whether or not to enter public service is analyzed in The New Republic by University of Chicago Professor Martha C. Nussbaum as she reviews a memoir written by Brown History Professor Emeritus Abbott (Tom) Gleason, a long-time member of the Watson Institute faculty.

“Where government service was concerned, Gleason took issue early on with contemporaries who denounced everything that went on there as corrupt, while saluting one another with canned revolutionary slogans,” Nussbaum writes about the book, A Liberal Education (TidePool Press, 2010).  “But he also knew life in Washington, with its constant jockeying for reputation and power, its severe restraints on self-expression.”

While Gleason’s portrait of life in the academy is far from rosy, she writes, “there is just the delight of finding something out and teaching it to others. It’s deeply moving to see Gleason find, slowly, the subject that grabs his passions and, ultimately, sustains his life.”