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John William Ward
An American Idealist
Kim Townsend

2014 • 260 pp. 4 illus. 6 x 9"
Biography / Education History

$29.95 Hardcover, 978-0-943184-17-3

$24.99 Ebook, 978-0-943184-18-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

The rise and fall of the man and the educational and democratic ideals he represented

This first-ever biography of John William Ward, the fourteenth president of Amherst College, explores the roots of his idealism and covers his presidency, his later success in Massachusetts politics, and the events leading up to his eventual suicide.

President from 1971 to 1979, Ward served during a tumultuous period in the history of the elite liberal arts college, and in the history of the nation. He presided over the once all-male college’s transition to coeducation, worked to support African-American students in their fight for equality and justice, and was arrested for civil disobedience in protest against the Vietnam War. Ward was emblematic of his time. Idealist that he was, he tried to make Amherst College a model of a democratic society.

Defeated in ugly battles with the faculty, Ward resigned as president but went on to great success in the rougher world of Massachusetts politics. He made headlines for his leadership of a state commission that spent more than two years investigating corruption in the awarding of building contracts, resulting in the passage of laws that guaranteed reforms.

This long-overdue volume is the first complete study of Ward—a self-made man, proof that the American Dream could come true, but who ultimately saw his personal and professional life collapse. It sheds light on Amherst College, on higher education more broadly, on suicide, and on the United States in the 1960s and ’70s.

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KIM TOWNSEND is the Class of 1959 Professor of English, Emeritus, at Amherst College. Though officially retired, he is in his 52nd year of teaching at the college. He is the author of two previous books, Manhood at Harvard: William James and Others and Sherwood Anderson: A Biography.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:20:59 -0500