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Dead White Guys
A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World
Matt Burriesci
ISBN: 9781632280176
Book (Paperback)
Viva Editions
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
288 pages
June 9, 2015


Dead White Guys is much more than “Western Civ for Dummies”: What Burriesci is passionate about is why these books matter, what they have to say to us in the 21st century about life’s persistent questions, as well as more particular cases: Sept. 11 and its aftermath, for example, and income inequality. The chapters frequently begin with a frank, often unflattering personal episode: staying silent while friends blew up frogs with firecrackers; making fun of gays; living a dissipated, druggie lifestyle. In each case, the personal material is spot-on relevant to the concepts under discussion, a testament to the growth and change that can occur when we examine our lives with courage, honesty, compassion and logic." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Dead White Guys is a timely defense of the great books, arriving in the middle of a national debate about the fate of these books in high schools and universities around the country. Burriesci shows how the great books can enrich our lives as individuals, as citizens, and in our careers. Extending the argument first made by Anna Quinndlen's on the act of reading itself, How Reading Changed My Life," ("It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light,) Burriesci reminds us all of the enormous impact reading has on our lives.

After his daughter was born prematurely in 2010, Burriesci set out to write a book about 26 Great Books, from Plato to Karl Marx, and how their lessons have applied to his life. As someone who has spent a long and successful career advocating for great literature, Burriesci defends the great books in this series of tender and candid letters, rich in personal experience and full of humor.

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