Unseasonable Truths: The Life of Robert Maynard Hutchins

Harry S. Ashmore, Author Little Brown and Company $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-316-05396-9
By the age of 28, Hutchins was dean of Yale Law School; at 30, he was president of the University of Chicago; and by his death at 78 in 1977, he was world renowned for his efforts to improve American education. This first full-length biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ashmore is stron gest in describing the political and philosophical struggles behind Hutchins's controversial Chicago presidency, his McCarthy-era civil rights efforts with the Fund for the Republic and his work at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, where Ashmore served as president. But although the biographer provides an important introduction to the work of an original thinker, his genteel prose often barely masks an old-fashioned sexism; for example, the complex personal life of a public innovator surely deserves a more detached, probing look than Ashmore's assessment of Hutchins's marriage: ``It was perhaps inevitable that when the bemusement of youthful attraction dissipated, a man committed to ideas would find it impossible to continue to live under the same roof with a woman whose responses were primarily sensory.'' Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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