What do you do when the collision alarm of your nuclear sub goes off under the polar ice pack? What ails U.S. symphony orchestras? What is it like to grow up coping with racial segregation, or spend a lifetime attempting to learn about the causes and prevention of violence? In the 1,016 pages of Recollections and Reflections: A Book of Essays for the Sixtieth Reunion, 135 members of the Harvard class of 1957 share personal experience of these and other challenges in chapters covering philosophy, history, education, the humanities, government, economics, the environment, science, and sociology.
The outpouring, conceived and completed within two years, reflects lives that have “plumbed nearly every depth of human emotions during our times,” write editor Newton E. Hyslop Jr. and co-editors James L. Joslin and Charles Steedman about their classmates’ collective project.
Steedman recalls that in graduation season 61 years ago, Life magazine’s editors challenged: “Arise, Class of 1957, you have nothing to lose but your apathy.” “To see how badly they misjudged our quietness, our apparent adherence to convention, our willingness to abide by our elders’ rules, read the essays in this book,” he writes. “It turns out we were just laying low, waiting to break out and do some amazing things.”
A full-color, digital version of this benchmark reunion project appears at h1957.classes.harvard.edu.