Weeding unearths some interesting autobiographies — February 27, 2009
One of the chores we are constantly doing at the Hastings Public Library is weeding. This is much like cleaning out closets at home – you get rid of things, find treasures you haven’t seen for a while and, hopefully, get things in better order. I have been weeding the storage non-fiction and would like to share a few of the biographies that caught my eye.
David Livingstone represents that type of hero that is best loved in the United States. He was born poor and through hard work and determination got an education and became a missionary and explorer. As the first European to see Victoria Falls, he opened up the central part of Africa to western influence or exploitation, depending on your outlook. Livingstone’s creed was “Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation” and you can read the remarkable story of his life in George Seaver’s “David Livingstone: His Life and Letters.”
Lincoln Steffens was a different sort of explorer. As a journalist at the turn of the twentieth century, he explored and exposed political corruption and was known as one of the most famous “muckrakers” of his time. In later years, Steffens lost hope with mere reform and examined the revolutionary minds of Mexico and Russia looking for a better social framework. Read “The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens” to reach your own conclusions about what he found.
William Allen White was also a journalist, but made his name running the “Emporia (Kansas) Gazette” and serving as the unofficial spokesman for the middle of American between the world wars. A friend of Theodore Roosevelt and politically a staunch Progressive, White tells his story in “The Autobiography of William Allen White.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick may not be a familiar name, yet he has been described as “a central figure in the conflict between fundamentalist and liberal forces in American Protestantism” (Wikipedia). “The Living of These Days: An Autobiography” will inform you about Fosdick’s theology and ministry from 1903 to 1946. If you choose not to read the entire book, I would recommend Chapter 10: “Ideas That Have Used Me” as an inspiration and summation.
We can all learn from those who have come before, so check out one of these biographies at the Hastings Public Library.