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Harvard Yard Hardcover – October 29, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
A dozen generations after Shakespeare gave the manuscript to Robert Harvard, a member of the Wedge family engages Peter Fallon of Back Bay to try to confirm the existence of the manuscript and ascertain its whereabouts. As Fallon begins his research into the story of the Isaac Wedge, thought to have received the manuscript from John Harvard, he introduces us to such luminaries as Cotton Mather, a religious zealot who began Harvard at age 11; George Burroughs, who was executed in the Salem Witch Trials; Caleb Wedge, who fought in the Revolutionary War; Theodore Wedge, a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; and eventually to Joseph Kennedy, Harry Widener, John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert Oppenheimer, and President Franklin Roosevelt. We witness the horrors of King Philip's War and the religious excesses of the Salem Witch Trials, the Great Boston Fire, the Civil War, the sinking of the Titanic, two world wars, and the opening of the college to Jews, blacks, and women.
Martin's concern is to make history lively and understandable, his characters sympathetic and often noble.Read more ›
Among the precious volumes is a handwritten play by William Shakespeare for John and his wife. The play is even more valuable because it is an original and the only copy of it ever produced by Shakespeare. However, things become difficult as the first establishment for higher education is run by the strict Puritan dogma, one that is restrictive of frivolous ideas or temptations. As we follow the history of the small volume, it is necessary for it to be removed and placed in a safe place until the college has broadened its perspective on what constitutes an education. The ensuing quest for this Shakespearean work is the central theme of Harvard Yard.
Moving back and forth in time, Harvard Yard revisits the original manuscript and its unique place in the Harvard library, making a case for the play's removal from the library when its survival is threatened by the historical imperative of the Puritan ethic, as well as the suggestion of it's possible reappearance. Antiquarian book dealer Peter Fallon is called to Harvard by his fellow alumni, descendants of the Wedge family, a dynasty that has been integral to the formation of Harvard's educational policy and financial resources. Fallon is asked to do research to determine if there is such a lost play, and if so, to do all he can to locate it, as it is worth millions of dollars.Read more ›
The character that energizes this novel is the University itself. Its presence and influence are felt throughout Harvard Alum Martin's compelling story. We come to see that Harvard, more than any other University, has the stature and cachet to construct this story around. Major events in our history are seen through the portal of Harvard and a quintessential Harvard family, the Wedge's. We learn of Harvard's simple origins and how it grew and becomes the force it is today. We meet important influences in the University's development, such as that fun father and son duo, Increase and Cotton Mather. (They kind of remind me of that joke about a Puritan minister's always having a sour look on his face because somewhere, somehow, someone is having a good time.). We learn why theater is the Devil's work. Why the Colonial fathers made a law against theater in 1767. (Play. A mere word and the uttering of it was like the sound of a gun.)
We discover that Harvard Graduation, long ago, was a Cambridge holiday. It turned Cambridge Commons into a kind of Mardi Gras.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love all books by William Martin, especially his mix of history and storytelling.Published 1 month ago by warren muise
My second William Martin book. The authors ability to weave a plot around history and present day fiction is like reading two books at once. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael Murphy
It's always fun to read a book whose setting is one that is very well known to oneself and this book doesn't disappoint. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sharon Hamer
Be sure to read Back Bay, also by William Martin, before reading Harvard Yard. Plenty of history & locally accurate details. Read morePublished 8 months ago by MsRoseCat
A Bostonian by birth, I'm a big fan of William Martin. His treatment of historical fiction is masterful, weaving historical data through usually fictional characters from the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Marie
The number of characters in the two time periods covered and the amount of time spent on each period made the story hard to follow. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A&R
More than I ever wanted to know about the history of Harvard, but necessary for the story.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have read several of Mr. Martin's books and loved them all until this one. Just can't seem to get into it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by L. Bovard Mayne