Originally published 08/04/2013
Luther Spoehr: Review of William J. Reese's “Testing Wars in the Public Schools: A Forgotten History” (Harvard University Press, 2013.)
When the examiners for the Boston School Committee visited the city’s public schools at the end of the 1845 school year, they brought along a surprise. Instead of the standard public questioning, recitation, and exhibitions, students were to take written examinations. This development, says William Reese, was as revolutionary as it was unexpected. Linked as it was to other reforms advocated by Horace Mann, Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and his allies in Boston, it was instrumental in establishing the template for public schooling across the country that still exists today.
Originally published 06/03/2013
Luther Spoehr: Review of David L. Kirp’s “Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools” (Oxford, 2013)
David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a longtime observer of American education, has written an invaluable book that is remarkable for its good sense and insight, and even more remarkable for appearing in the midst of an ongoing educational conversation that has long been marked by an almost willful air of unreality.
Originally published 05/04/2013
Luther Spoehr is an HNN book editor and a senior lecturer at Brown University.
Originally published 03/26/2013
Luther Spoehr: Review of Albert J. Figone's "Cheating the Spread: Gamblers, Point Shavers, and Game Fixers in College Football and Basketball" (University of Illinois Press, 2012)
Luther Spoehr, an HNN book editor, co-teaches a course on the history of intercollegiate athletics at Brown University.“The race may not be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” the inimitable Damon Runyon observed, “but that’s the way to bet.” Unless, he might have added, the fix is in. And as Albert Figone demonstrates, the fix has been in many times in major college sports over the past seventy-five years or so. Figone’s research into “court records, newspaper articles, books, government documents, magazine articles, documents found in university archives, scholarly journals, and interviews” has produced a chronicle that is both impressive and depressing.
Originally published 02/17/2013
Luther Spoehr: Review of Robert Sullivan's "My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
Luther Spoehr is a book editor for HNN and senior lecturer at Brown University.As a native Pennsylvanian, I’m always glad to see the Middle Atlantic states get their historical due, even when, as in this case, New York and New Jersey get more attention than the Keystone State, and even when the presentation is far from conventional. Robert Sullivan, whose articles have appeared in the New Yorker and elsewhere and who has written books on topics ranging from rats to Henry David Thoreau, looks at the landscape of the American Revolution, treating the terrain as a kind of palimpsest and trying, through research and imagination, to peel back the layers and see it as it was almost two-and-a-half centuries ago.
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