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The Americanization of Edward Bok
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2007
Edward Bok emigrated from the Netherlands with his family at the age of 6 in 1870 (5 years after the Civil War). He had to learn English and the way of this new country. With the lunch money and bus fare he saved, Edward bought a set of encyclopedias to study famous Americans. He began writing letters asking questions and getting autographed replies from famous figures like Lincoln, Sherman, Grant, Longfellow, Tennyson.... When his father read the reply from General Early as to why he burned Chambersburg and not Frederick, he had the letter published in the New York Tribune.

From the news story about young Edward, prominent people contacted him to read these letters. He was invited to dinner by General Grant, began writing President Garfield and many who later became US Presidents... and upon whom he called on at NY hotels when they visited NY City. When Bok became a stenographer as a teenager, the step to newspaper writer wasn't far behind as he was known by these famous Americans and could easily obtain interviews.

Against all logic, Edward Bok left NY, his status at Scribner's and Son's and Curtis Publishing, to fulfill his vision and destiny of influencing the positive development of the US as the editor of The Ladies Home Journal from 1889 until he retired in 1919 when WWI ended. Bok then focussed full time on improving his new homeland and the city of Philadelphia. Bok wrote several book, established and financed several educational endowments along with The American Peace Award (to name just a few).

The Americanization of Edward Bok (his autobiography) is required reading in many schools...probably at Harvard as his grandson, Derek Bok, was president of Harvard in recent years! Read alone or aloud to older children, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll stand in disbelief about Bok's encounters with about every famous person of his time (including Twain, Kipling, Beecher, Lewis Carroll and his beloved Teddy Roosevelt). This book was a favorite read for me at 14 and again at 40. Take off your shoes and wear Bok's for a mile, or two...or more. You will come away a better person, with greater appreciation for this country, inspired to create your own vision to contribute more as a citizen of the US and the world!
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