— Michael Pollan
“With sentences that sometimes astonish” (Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft), celebrated cultural critic Mark Edmundson has written a hip and hilarious coming-of-age memoir about one man’s miscues and false starts as he enters the world after college. Through exhilarating adventures, he attempts to answer the timeless question of who he is, while contemplating what role music, love, work, drugs, money, and books will play in his life.
Why Read was a PSLA Young Adult Top 40 non-fiction title 2004
Football teaches young men self-discipline and teamwork. But football celebrates violence. Football is a showcase for athletic beauty and physical excellence. But football damages young bodies and minds, sometimes permanently. Football inspires confidence and direction. But football instills cockiness, a false sense of superiority. The athlete is a noble figure with a proud lineage. The jock is America at its worst.
When Mark Edmundson’s son began to play organized football, and proved to be very good at it, Edmundson had to come to terms with just what he thought about the game. Doing so took him back to his own childhood, when as a shy, soft boy growing up in a blue-collar Boston suburb in the sixties, he went out for the high school football team. Why Football Matters is the story of what happened to Edmundson when he tried to make himself into a football player.
What does it mean to be a football player? At first Edmundson was hapless on the field. He was an inept player and a bad teammate. But over time, he got over his fears and he got tougher. He learned to be a better player and came to feel a part of the team, during games but also on all sorts of escapades, not all of them savory. By playing football, Edmundson became what he and his father hoped he’d be, a tougher, stronger young man, better prepared for life.
But is football-instilled toughness always a good thing? Do the character, courage, and loyalty football instills have a dark side? Football, Edmundson found, can be full of bounties. But it can also lead you into brutality and thoughtlessness. So how do you get what’s best from the game and leave the worst behind?
Why Football Matters is moving, funny, vivid, and filled with the authentic anxiety and exhilaration of youth. Edmundson doesn’t regret playing football for a minute, and cherishes the experience. His triumph is to be able to see it in full, as something to celebrate, but also something to handle with care. For anyone who has ever played on a football team, is the parent of a player, or simply is reflective about its outsized influence on America, Why Football Matters is both a mirror and a lamp.
By taking a close look at Freud's last years-years that coincided with the onset of the Second World War-Edmundson probes Freud's prescient ideas about the human proclivity to embrace fascism in politics and fundamentalism in religion. At a time when these forces are once again shaping world events, The Death of Sigmund Freud suggests new and vital ways to view Freud's legacy.
When Frank Lears, a small, nervous man wearing a moth-eaten suit, arrived at Medford fresh from Harvard University, his students pegged him as an easy target. Lears was unfazed by their spitballs and classroom antics. He shook things up, trading tired textbooks for Kesey and Camus, and provoking his class with questions about authority, conformity, civil rights, and the Vietnam War. He rearranged seats and joined in a ferocious snowball fight with Edmundson and his football crew. Lears’s impassioned attempts to get these kids to think for themselves provided Mark Edmundson with exactly the push he needed to break away from the lockstep life of Medford High. Written with verve and candor, Teacher is Edmundson’s heartfelt tribute to the man who changed the course of his life.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Why write when it sometimes feels that so few people really read--read as if their lives might be changed by what they're reading? Why write, when the world wants to be informed, not enlightened; to be entertained, not inspired? Writing is backbreaking, mind-breaking, lonely work. So why?
Because writing, as celebrated professor Mark Edmundson explains, is one of the greatest human goods. Real writing can do what critic R. P. Blackmur said it could: add to the stock of available reality. Writing teaches us to think; it can bring our minds to birth. And once we're at home with words, there are few more pleasurable human activities than writing. Because this is something he believes everyone ought to know, Edmundson offers us Why Write?, essential reading--both practical and inspiring--for anyone who yearns to be a writer, anyone who simply needs to know how to get an idea across, and anyone in between--in short, everyone.
A renowned professor of English at the University of Virginia, Mark Edmundson has devoted his career to tough-minded yet optimistic advocacy for the humanities. He argues for the importance of reading and writing to an examined and fruitful life and affirms the invaluable role of teachers in opening up fresh paths for their students.
In his series of books Why Read?, Why Teach?, and Why Write? Edmundson explored the vital worldly roles of reading, teaching, and writing, earning a vocal following of writers, teachers, and scholars at the top of their fields, from novelist Tom Perrotta to critics Laura Kipnis and J. Hillis Miller.
Now for the first time The Heart of the Humanities collects into one volume this triad of impassioned arguments, including an introduction from the author on the value of education in the present and for the future. The perfect gift for students, recent graduates, writers, teachers, and anyone interested in education and the life of the mind, this omnibus edition will make a powerful and timely case for strengthening the humanities both in schools and in our society.
A renowned professor of English at the University of Virginia, Edmundson has felt firsthand the pressure on colleges to churn out a productive, high-caliber workforce for the future. Yet in these essays, many of which have run in places such as Harper's and the New York Times, he reminds us that there is more to education than greater productivity. With prose exacting yet expansive, tough-minded yet optimistic, Edmundson argues forcefully that the liberal arts are more important today than ever, and a necessary remedy for our troubled times. Why Teach? is brimming with the wisdom and inspiration that make learning possible.