Unread White Males

A Great Idea at the Time
The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
Alex Beam
PublicAffairs, $24.95, 256 pp.

When Henry James wrote, “It’s a complex fate, being an American,” he must have had the subject of Alex Beam’s book in mind. James would have savored its opening scene at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where on April 15, 1952, a dinner was held by the University of Chicago and the Encyclopedia Britannica to launch “The Great Books of the Western World.” Though Rockefellers,...

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About the Author

Peter Schwendener has written for the American Scholar, the New Criterion, and other publications.

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