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Poster for Harvard Book Store presents Drew Gilpin Faust

Harvard Book Store presents Drew Gilpin Faust

Coming on September 14

Run Time: 90 min.

Harvard Book Store Presents:

Drew Gilpin Faust


Necessary Trouble:
Growing Up at Midcentury 

in conversation with HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.

Harvard Book Store welcomes DREW GILPIN FAUST—Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University—for a discussion of her new book Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury. She will be joined in conversation by HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. 


There are two ticket options available for this event.

Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one hardcover copy of Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury pre-signed by the author.

Admission-Only Ticket: Includes admission for one.

About Necessary Trouble

To grow up in the 1950s was to enter a world of polarized national alliances, nuclear threat, and destabilized social hierarchies. Two world wars and the depression that connected them had unleashed a torrent of expectations and dissatisfactions―not only in global affairs but in American society and Americans’ lives.

A privileged white girl in conservative, segregated Virginia was expected to adopt a willful blindness to the inequities of race and the constraints of gender. For Drew Gilpin, the acceptance of both female subordination and racial hierarchy proved intolerable and galvanizing. Urged to become “well adjusted” and to fill the role of a poised young lady that her upbringing imposed, she found resistance was necessary for her survival. During the 1960s, through her love of learning and her active engagement in the civil rights, student, and antiwar movements, Drew forged a path of her own―one that would eventually lead her to become a historian of the very conflicts that were instrumental in shaping the world she grew up in.

Culminating in the upheavals of 1968, Necessary Trouble captures a time of rapid change and fierce reaction in one young woman’s life, tracing the transformations and aftershocks that we continue to grapple with today.

Praise for Necessary Trouble

“In a powerful new memoir, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust details her experiences shedding the expectations of her insulated upbringing and the thoughtful courage it took to transcend the antiquated racial and gender biases of the time. This intricate narrative encapsulates the not-so-pleasant conflicts many struggled to overcome during the turbulent post-World War II period. Few overcame as successfully as Dr. Faust, and this publication should inspire those of us confronting similar challenges in today’s America.” —Congressman James E. Clyburn

Necessary Trouble is a beautifully rendered coming-of-age narrative of a sensitive young woman―raised in a conservative white family of privilege in rural Virginia horse country―whose growing awareness of the suffocating conventions of gender gradually awakens her to the inequities of race. Through superb storytelling and delightfully lyrical prose, Drew Faust demonstrates, day-to-day, the inextricable interplay of class, gender, and race in mid-twentieth century America far more effectively than a scholarly treatise could ever achieve. Necessary Trouble is destined to be a classic of American memoir.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“This gem of a memoir is a triumph. Drew Faust’s rich portrait of the South she grew up in and how she and it went through radical transformation is a necessary book for our times.” ―Walter Isaacson, author of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Update on Event Masking Policies

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Drew Gilpin Faust

Drew Gilpin Faust is Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University where she served as president from 2007 to 2018. She came to Harvard in 2001 as founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study after twenty five years on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Faust is the author of several books, including Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury, forthcoming August 22, 2023; This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; and Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, which won the Francis Parkman Prize. She and her husband live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates’s most recent books are Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow and The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. He has also produced and hosted more than 20 documentary films, most recently The Black Church on PBS and Black Art: In the Absence of Light for HBO. Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, is now in its eighth season on PBS.

Photo credit: Peter Simon

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