Henry David Thoreau
A new book explores the man behind the recluse in the woods.
July 3, 2006
A reflection on the grittier side of being one with nature, and whether Henry David Thoreau really enjoyed it as much as he claimed to.
From Zuccotti Park to the streets of Oakland, the Occupiers have been careful to define their ideology as broadly and vaguely as possible. That has been a wise decision. If you claim to represent the “99 percent,” it would be contradictory, as well as self-defeating, to assert there is just one correct explanation for what caused the economic crisis and just one true way to achieve economic justice for the heterogeneous majority.
Born Losers: A History of Failure in AmericaBy Scott A. Sandage Harvard University Press, 362 pp. You might approach a book about losers with a certain hauteur. And Scott A. Sandage's opening anecdote about an unidentified loser who died in 1862 lends itself to your hunch that his book is going to be a dutiful trudge through a gallery of garden-variety failures. "I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition," a friend grieved at the man's funeral. That's page one.