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Who was Edwin Barlow? That's a great question. To many people he is a complete unknown, to those that knew this enigmatic character he was either your mentor, or tyrant depending on your view. He was a teacher, and a teacher from the old school. I suffered through the English Grammar School system, and I am pretty certain my Latin and English teachers were related to Edwin Barlow.
Edwin Barlow was also the first person to be awarded the `Teacher Of The Year' title. I know author Lawrence Meyers through some Internet email interactions. He is one smart cookie. And Edwin Barlow was one of his high school teachers.
Lawrence has worked long and hard on this biography. Mister Barlow was a deeply private person, and a man that deserves to be recognized. He shunned attention, he lived a monastic life, he terrified his students, and he likely was the best teacher in living memory. He lived the life of a pauper with few possessions, yet in death it was revealed that his estate was more that $400,000, most of which went to help an educational foundation.
Lawrence has taken a novel approach to the format of this book. "Part One: The Mister Barlow I Knew" is exactly that. It is Lawrence's own high school memories and also their relationship afterwards. Some of the stories had me in stitches. Mister Barlow comes across as a tyrannical despot bent on terrorizing his pupils. He had a particularly interesting bedside manner, referring to students that displeased him, which was a frequent occurrence, as `vegetables' or `clods'. My favorite quote though has to be, "Ms, Jones only prostitutes wear purple, get out of my class!"
Somehow I doubt that these tactics could be used in schools these days.
"Part Two: The Mister Barlow You Knew" is a collection of stories by other people who knew him, both as former students, and also colleagues and contemporaries. Once again he comes across as an enigma. Little is revealed about the private life of the man. He seemed to spend virtually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, skulking in his lair at Horace Greenly High School. On Sunday mornings, for example, he could be found at his desk doing the New York Times crossword.
"Part Three: The Mister Barlow Nobody Knew", pulls the veil aside. Lawrence, through grit and determination, followed every lead he could find, and eventually started to unearth the strange story of Edwin Barlow. A World War II veteran, wounded twice. A man with deep-seated religious beliefs who, for a time, gave serious thought of becoming a member of the clergy. A plan dashed by his experiences in the war, Edwin Barlow could not in good conscience join the cloth with blood on his hands. Education became his chosen profession.
The final part of the book, "Understanding Mister Barlow..." analyzes the enigma through his readings and writings. Much can be gleaned about a man by the books he read. Edwin Barlow had a real passion for "Alice In Wonderland". In fact, in a rare interview, when asked if he could be anyone in the world, his reply was Lewis Carroll.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a fabulous story, and the quality of writing is excellent.
So nice to read the history of a former colleague. I was very lucky to have worked with this special man. Job well done, Lawrence Meyers. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joanne M
I enjoyed the book. Mister Barlow was my home room teacher when I was a freshman at Horace Greely High. The author did a good job of adding dimension to an unforgettable teacher.Published 7 months ago by Michel L Drahota
30 years later I find myself often reminiscing about Edwin Barlow, more than any other teacher. He was truly one of a kind. Read morePublished 17 months ago by John R. Liesching
I really enjoyed this book about a teacher who had my total respect. It was interesting to learn about what made this very unusual man tick. Read morePublished 19 months ago by thomas cates
This book brought back so many great memories of both Mr. Barlow and Horace Greeley High School from which I graduated in 1976. Read morePublished 20 months ago by M. Fris
I have to admit, I approached this book with a fair amount of trepidation. I never had Mr. Barlow as a teacher but he was a strong and intimidating presence as he lumbered around... Read morePublished 22 months ago by John Friedman
A great read whether or not you were a student of his. The book goes behind the man, the classroom rants, and tells a touching story about faith, fortitde and commitment. Read morePublished on October 10, 2012 by Jman
An interesting book but full of suppositions and much fiction. The nagging thing about this book is that there are so many grammatical errors and typos that it was hard to get... Read morePublished on February 3, 2012 by Lynda B. Evans