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Samuel Beer, legendary Harvard professor, has died at age 97.  He taught, for decades, Social Science 2, and since Mr UD not only took it with him lo these many years ago, but saw Beer recently, I’ll let him do the talking.


“I saw him at the Harvard Memorial Church, at the memorial for John Kenneth Galbraith, and I talked to him after the event at the Galbraith house.

I said ‘I enjoyed your course,’ and he smiled and made a funny remark I don’t remember… His wife said he gets that a lot.  They were in the Tokyo airport not long ago and someone stopped him to say he enjoyed his course.

Soc Sci 2 was a very famous course – there’s an edited volume based on it.  Don’t know the title; came out a long time ago.  [Is it this?]  About the same time I was an undergraduate.

It was a core course , a social science requirement, and it was a great course.  Quite a number of interesting intellectual types went through it as teaching assistants.  It was a year-long course devoted to revolutions.

He started with the Gregorian revolution, so that was an unusual thing… The great changes starting in the 11th century and developing through the 12th and 13th – church reforms , struggles between the papacy and the emperor.

One could argue that modern revolutions have their roots there… Then he did the English revolution…  Then the great revolutions of  the 18th century… The Russian revolution… I think the last one was the Nazis…

Sam Beer was important to me intellectually … I’m glad that I had a chance to tell him at the Galbraith event that I enjoyed his course.  It was really kind of a crucial course in my intellectual development.  I could have gone a more conventional route; I was a government major, but I didn’t want to take a course in American government.  It struck me as incredibly boring.

I took his course, which was kind of history-heavy social science… Looking for patterns and so on.  I very much liked that and I switched into social studies.

[UD:  It says in the Crimson story about him that he sometimes wore his military uniform to class.  Do you remember his doing that?]

No.  When I was a student at Harvard, that wouldn’t have been a good idea.”


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One Response to “Mr UD Recalls His Beer Days”

  1. University Diaries » More on Sam Beer… Says:

    […] was his thesis student and his research […]

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