Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
A complete college education in one volume. Wow!
The breadth of subject matter, and the consistent intelligence with which it's handled, is just dizzying. You might not agree with a given position that Barzun stakes out in his galaxies of subjects, but he's always interesting, humane, thoughtful, and informed. Plus he's a lucid, vigorous, coherent writer of English prose -- you could use this book just as a style manual in learning to be a better writer!
Ideal for young people and students, who will find here a vast treasure-trove of necessary cultural reference. (So now you know who Berlioz was!) A place to begin building your humanities education, and your intellectual character, as it seems many of our colleges are no longer up to the task. It's one of those books that'll make you a better person. No fooling.
This book, like Barzun himself, gets better with age!
Like too many others, my journey to becoming a Barzun addict was a slow, steady build. Yes, it was through first reading 'From Dawn to Decadence' that I came to admire his electrifying prose and sparkling wit. And his books on culture and education...my gosh, man!
So there I was in the neighborhood bookstore and I see a brand spankin' new Barzun reader. Since I read in tangents, the format seemed a bit scattered but I bought it, knowing that I would always, no matter what tangent I was on, find something of interest in this volume.
I couldn't have been more right!! I've had the book for, maybe, nine months now and I'm STILL finding, savoring and rereading these excerpts. So many topics covered- from baseball to Berlioz, crime-fiction to higher education, race to romanticism. These days, whenever someone writes about so many subjects, there's always a suspicion that we, the readers, will find ourselves slighted- how can one person actually EXCEL in so many areas and still retain quality and grace. Barzun is a stunning example of someone who can and if you're anything like me (not reading all the way through, but reading each exerpt as it strikes your fancy), this book will rank on your 'most rewarding purchases' list
Jacques, we hardly knew ye!
Michael Murray, editor of "A Jacques Barzun Reader," has compiled a beautifully varied collection of the great cultural historian's essays -- many of which even we hardcore Barzun admirers have never read & never thought we'd have the chance to read. For example, Barzun's provocative distinction between the "craft" of criticism & art in literature is a seldom-seen essay, & shed light on an aspect of Barzun's thinking that was unknown to me.
Is the book too small? I don't know -- perhaps any such compilation of Barzun's extraordinary & humane writing would be too small, too exclusive. These essays are (presumably) Murray's choices, & I have no quarrel with them per se. But where are other long-treasured & fascinating Barzun essays, such as "James the Melodramatist" or a thoughtful (& negative) critique he wrote decades ago on Eric Partridge's "Usage & Abusage"?
I begin to see that, in fact, a complete collection of Barzun's written work -- all seven or eight decades of it -- is called for. It would, of course, require numerous volumes. "A Jacques Barzun Reader" is an excellent start. I am happy to learn from the dust jacket that Michael Murray is writing a biography on Barzun.
A minor cavil with Murray's method: He chose not to footnote or otherwise indicate his alterations to Barzun's original text for a fairly sensible reason. However, I found myself wondering just which passages or what information was omitted from the reprint of various essays in the book.