From scholar Daniel Aaron, the long view of civilization

From The Washington Post:

American THE AMERICANIST By Daniel Aaron.

Many memoirs try hard to re-create past moments, the arguments around the family dinner table, the horrors of poverty, the elation of first love. But Aaron, now in his 90s, eschews all this scene-setting and melodrama. Instead, he pointedly tells us just what he thought of the many presidents under whom he has lived (starting with Woodrow Wilson) and modestly reflects on some of his students, friends, teachers and colleagues. As a graduate assistant at Harvard, he graded the English assignments of “an intense hungry-looking fellow” named Norman Mailer as well as the “so-so examination paper” of John Kennedy. One of his good pals back then was the poet Charles Olson. He neatly ends a pen portrait of his mentor Perry Miller, the intellectual historian of colonial America, with this wry summary of the scholar’s later life (and that of many another aging college professor):

“World War II both energized and undid Miller. He entered it in some noncombatant role and returned from it a romantic swashbuckler boasting about the Germans he had slain. After the war, Miller became an alcoholic, was ejected by his wife, and courted pretty graduate students.”

More here.