The celebrated tragedians of the Booth family let Shakespeare’s themes seep into their own relationships. Hubris, glory, the legacy of a dead father, brotherly rivalry, and a powerful delusion led the family—and the nation—to catastrophe.
Our latest Exclusive comes from writer and Longreads Member Maria Bustillos, whose own work has been featured on Longreads in the past. She’s chosen Chapter 8 from Pulitzer Prize winner Ernest Becker’s 1975 book Escape from Evil. Maria explains:
“Becker won a Pulitzer for his previous book, The Denial of Death, but this one, published posthumously and building on ideas from that earlier work, is far, far better, to my mind, more compact, more advanced, more compelling. This book is pragmatic synthesis of multiple disciplines in the science of man, the place where humanities and science collide. Theories about Becker’s work abound, but for me his great gift was the way he seemed to have led us to the threshold of a new enlightenment, clear-eyed, undeceived, ready to take the next step. It’s a step the reader may be able to intuit, and perhaps even gain, and make practical use of in his or her own life: ‘[W]e have to take a full look at the worst in order to begin to get rid of illusions. Realism, even brutal, is not cynicism.'”