Friends gave me a copy of Ellen Schrecker’s The Lost Soul of Higher Education for my 65th birthday, and I read it cover to cover while working out on an elliptical machine. Nothing much new in it, at least to me; I have lived through much of the history she recounts, though I wasn’t really conscious during the McCarthy Era. Aside from that (she writes a good deal about attacks on academic freedom), the book was more like a trip down painful memory lane. Not depressing exactly, since, in effect, I was pre-depressed (before the reading) by what I have observed over the last 30 plus years. I suppose you could say the read simply affirmed what I had observed and conjectured. There’s always a bit of pick-me-up in being affirmed, even if what is being affirmed is negative. Maybe that was why–I can’t think of any other reason–I decided to email the author and tell her I had read her book and appreciated it. So I found her email address at Yeshiva University and sent her a note. She emailed back saying my note had made her day. That’s nice to think I had helped to make somebody’s day, and it didn’t take that much effort either. I think I should do that more often, email the author of the books I read. Though I don’t read many books these days, and many of the authors I tend to read are dead. So you can’t email them.