Luther Spoehr

  • Luther Spoehr: Review of William J. Reese's “Testing Wars in the Public Schools: A Forgotten History” (Harvard University Press, 2013.)

    When the examiners for the Boston School Committee visited the city’s public schools at the end of the 1845 school year, they brought along a surprise.  Instead of the standard public questioning, recitation, and exhibitions, students were to take written examinations.  This development, says William Reese, was as revolutionary as it was unexpected.  Linked as it was to other reforms advocated by Horace Mann, Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and his allies in Boston, it was instrumental in establishing the template for public schooling across the country that still exists today.

  • Luther Spoehr: Review of Robert Sullivan's "My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)

    Luther Spoehr is a book editor for HNN and senior lecturer at Brown University.As a native Pennsylvanian, I’m always glad to see the Middle Atlantic states get their historical due, even when, as in this case, New York and New Jersey get more attention than the Keystone State, and even when the presentation is far from conventional. Robert Sullivan, whose articles have appeared in the New Yorker and elsewhere and who has written books on topics ranging from rats to Henry David Thoreau, looks at the landscape of the American Revolution, treating the terrain as a kind of palimpsest and trying, through research and imagination, to peel back the layers and see it as it was almost two-and-a-half centuries ago.