Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World is author Matt Burriesci’s attempt to explain 26 great written works of the world to his daughter, as well as make some sense of them in his life as well. When Burriesci’s daughter was born prematurely in 2010, he felt a huge shift in his priorities. As a man who had devoted his life to the pursuit of great literature, it makes perfect sense that Burriesci would write one of the sweetest declarations of parental love and guidance for life by gathering some of the written works considered to be the greatest in the Western World.
I appreciate that in his preface Matt Burriesci is careful to point out that the title of the book is tongue-in-cheek. While the book collects 26 famous written works, they are male and primarily white writers. He is careful to point out to both his daughter and the reader that there are far more works in the world, but that he has narrowed them down specifically for certain lessons on life. The majority of the books in this collection go to the Greeks, focusing on the Plato, Socrates and a few others from the region. He includes one book of the Bible as well.
For those who have read these works, Dead White Guys offers a great place to compare Burriesci’s thoughts vs. the reader’s thoughts. Readers take away different ideas from various works of literature, and the book points out that these are merely the author’s takeaways and experiences. For those who have not read the works, Dead White Guys offers a brief overview and detailed explanation of 26 of the most famous written works.
Dead White Guys is part instruction for life, part loving parental biography and part overview of classic written works.