Book Post: Origin Story

In the late 1940s, over two million Americans went to college on the GI bill. One of them was my father, who had grown up in a small yellow house on Claremont Avenue in Chicago, the only child of Swedish immigrants without higher education, and served in Europe as an underage volunteer; his father was a pipefitter. My father went to the University of Chicago, which at that time had adopted the great books curriculum of Robert Maynard Hutchins, as a local kid. Elsewhere on campus during those years was my future boss, Bob Silvers, with my other future boss, Susan Sontag; they had journeyed to Chicago from their respective suburbs because, at the age of fifteen, they could not wait to be educated and they were drawn to Hutchins’ project. My father went on to become a doctor and develop a treatment for tumors of the pituitary using protons from a nearby cyclotron he and a friend studied after the professors went home at night. Bob co-founded the

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