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Rockwall woman writes personal story about controversial, misunderstood father

Over the past few decades, it has become almost a cliché for people to describe the political climate as “polarized.”

Recently, Rachel Silber Devlin, a retired teacher who lives in both Rockwall and Boston, Massachusetts, published a book that addresses the subject but touches it on a personal level as it is a biography of her late father, John Silber.

John Silber, remembered by many as the controversial president of Boston University from 1971 to 1996 and for his unsuccessful 1990 race for governor of Massachusetts, was a staunch supporter of free speech, which in turn branded him a liberal early in his academic career. in the University. University of Texas at Austin and later as a conservative in Massachusetts.

“My father considered himself a classical liberal… and so he considered discussion paramount and believed that a college campus should be a safe space for all views, not a place where people are protected from views they disagree with. s,” Devlin said. “He didn’t consider himself a conservative at all. He was just a classic liberal who was very fond of using the Socratic method of discussing questions, in which he used questions to help people develop their thoughts.

“It’s unfortunate that free speech itself is becoming an increasingly controversial topic among liberals,” Devlin added.

Devlin’s book, Photographs of My Father John Silber, grew out of a eulogy she wrote for him after his death in 2012. At almost 300 pages, she uses several anecdotes to paint a portrait of a man through the forces that created who he was, with many stories set in Silber’s youth while growing up in Depression-era San Antonio.

“A lot of people didn’t know about my dad, how much he admired the women in his life, especially his mother and mother-in-law,” Devlin said. “This is different from what many might expect because mothers-in-law are rarely portrayed as important in men’s lives…but she was active during the Great Depression and later helped repair military aircraft during World War II.”

Pictures of My Father John Silber are available for sale online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble; however, Devlin hopes to host official promotional events for the book in both Boston and Austin starting in March.

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