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Eric Weiner

Was Henry Pond Scum or Seer?

“A few weeks before my journey to Concord, I stumbled upon a New Yorker article about Thoreau. It was called “Pond Scum” and, as you can imagine, did little to rehabilitate the Hermit of Concord in my mind. The story’s author, Kathryn Schulz, opens the piece by painting a picture of the coldhearted, misanthropic crank. Then she takes the gloves off. But as the commuter train pulls into Concord Station, just as it did during Thoreau’s day, I resolve to maintain an open mind.”

So begins the chapter, “How to See like Thoreau,” in Eric Weiner’s new book The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers. Eric is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Geography of Bliss and The Geography of Genius, as well as the critically acclaimed Man Seeks God. A former foreign correspondent for NPR, he has reported from more than three dozen countries. His work has appeared in the New Republic, The Atlantic, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, and the anthology “Best American Travel Writing.” He lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife, daughter and a menagerie of animals. For more information, visit:, or follow him on twitter: @eric_weiner. Join the Write Connection, Saturday, October 17 at 2 pm, as we talked to Eric about his writing process and how he came to reckon Thoreau among the great philosophers.


Oct 01 2020


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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I had more cheering visitors … Children come a-berrying, railroad men taking a Sunday morning walk in clean shirts, fishermen and hunters, poets and philosophers; in short, all honest pilgrims, who came out to the woods for freedom’s sake, and really left the village behind …”

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