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Michael Clay Thompson has produced an excellent book for teachers and for secondary students in which he highlights people, ideas and books which have made a remarkable contribution to the life of the mind. Thompson carefully explains the importance and significance of each author, work or idea. More importantly, he conveys the intellectual excitement of each contribution. It is spirited and illuminating reading. Thinkers answers a lot of questions. Why should we pay any attention to Stephen Hawkins? What is special about George Eliots Middlemarch? Should we ask students to read Huck Finn despite its racist language? Why would anyone care now about Vasaris Lives of the Artists? What is so special about Walt Whitman? Why read Scarlet Letter when there is a good movie? What really does Carl Sagan have to offer us? Why should we ask students to read the more than a century old lectures of A. C. Bradley about Shakespeares tragedies? Is there anything to be said for reading Dostoeveskys depressing Crime and Punishment or Sylvia Plaths very depressing The Bell Jar? Why would anyone care about Frederick Douglass? Does Bill Gates of Microsoft have anything to offer us or is his book just corporate hype? What is the importance of Swifts Gullivers Travels? What are the major turning points in the history of the mind?
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