Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: George Washington Carver by John Perry

I seem to be reading a lot of nonfiction and biographies lately.  When I was offered the chance to review George Washington Carver I was curious to find out about the person whose name I'd heard many times.  I didn't really know much about him except that he was educated.

John Perry did a masterful job of presenting Dr. Carver in a realistic way.  He didn't hide the man's many quirks, especially his need of constant approbation.  The writing is easy to read and contains a great deal of interesting information about the times and Carver's place in it.

Carver was born a slave.  After slavery was abolished George and his brother were raised by the couple who had owned them.  George received a basic education from his guardians and was encouraged to continue his education.  The author describes in detail how an African-American man had to struggle to achieve a decent education.  Carver managed to graduate from college and became a professor at the Tuskegee Institute where he taught black students methods of self-sufficient agriculture.

Carver enjoyed the role of teacher and scientist but avoided the administrative role in his department.  This created a great deal of friction between himself and the Institute's board.  One of Carver's greatest accomplishments, outside of the scientific, was in befriending his students, encouraging them and holding bible classes for them.

I really enjoyed this quick read, learning about a person in history whose name I have heard many times without really knowing who he was.