Making ‘Necessary Trouble’: A historian rises above her roots

Barbara Spindel in The Christian Science Monitor:

Drew Gilpin Faust’s memoir is both a moving personal narrative and an enlightening account of the transformative political and social forces that impacted her as she came of age in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s an apt combination from an acclaimed historian who’s also a powerful storyteller.

“Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury” describes Dr. Faust’s upbringing as a privileged white girl in segregated Virginia, where she chafed at constraints placed on her because of her gender and was outraged by the racial discrimination she saw around her. (The book opens with a copy of her handwritten letter to President Dwight Eisenhower, penned at age 9, asking him to end school segregation.)

By the time “Necessary Trouble” concludes in 1968, with Dr. Faust’s graduation from Bryn Mawr College, she had rejected the culture in which she was raised, embracing the civil rights and anti-war movements and daring to imagine a different future for herself. She went on to become a scholar of the American South and, later, the first woman president of Harvard University, a position she held from 2007 to 2018. She recently spoke with the Monitor.

More here.