By Jared Diamond, author of The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution And Future of the Human Animal (Seven Stories, April 2014).
One day, when my twin sons were in middle school, they came home from school angry with me. I wasn’t aware of having done anything particular that day to arouse their wrath, and so I asked them what was the matter. They replied, “Our history teacher has assigned your book to our class to read. We haven’t looked at it yet, but we already know that it’s a bad book. Worst of all, our teacher is inviting you to come to school to talk to our class. We are going to be so embarrassed in front of our friends!”
I duly arrived at my sons’ class, to find my sons sitting in the last row, with faces averted, huddled in uncomfortable postures, and obviously in agony from embarrassment. As I began to talk about my book, their classmates started asking questions and expressing increasingly lively interest. My sons gradually rotated to face forward, relaxed from their cramped posture, and began smiling. They were delighted that their classmates liked my book, and that they didn’t have to be ashamed of me. Since then, my sons have been among my strongest supporters, quick to denounce any criticism of my books. (more…)