Books That Inspire 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Ken Kesey

In a few months, this book will be fifty years old. But it is written with such youthful verve and such wild energy that it is hard to think of it as creeping toward old age. It tells the story of the patients in a mental hospital and of what happens there when a free, individualistic, and disruptive new patient arrives to dispute the tyrannical rule of the Big Nurse. The book inspires in two ways. First, as a great work of literature its superb craftsmanship will enliven and animate any reader. And second, Kesey offers a wonderful insight into the inspiring spirit of the 1960s: the skepticism, the questioning of authority, the freedom from convention, and the resistance to injustice of that legendary decade.

David W. Levy
David Ross Boyd Professor of History, Emeritus