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Younger Than That Now looks at the correspondence between two denizens of entirely different worlds. In 1969 Jeff Durstewitz, "ringleader" of a group of students from a Long Island, New York school newspaper, wrote an obnoxious letter to Ruth Tuttle, the editor of a school paper in small-town Mississippi— without the intent of his ever receiving a response. Within a few days, however, he got Ruth's electrifying response, and felt obliged to respond. And so began a lifetime of correspondence that spanned the next 30 years.
The flurry of letters between genteelly Southern Ruth and brash New Yorker Jeff, where they explored their feelings about God, race, sex, and life, all reveal how disparate worlds can clash, can reaffirm similarities, and can be brought together by the power of words. As their letters chart their passage from youth to middle age, their memoir captures not just the hopes of an era yearning for revolution and the soul of a country on the brink of change, but also the essence of being bright, young, and passionate.
Suggested reading for history students studying the sixties and for sociology students of American culture.
"I've been waiting for Younger Than That Now since I first taught 'America in the Sixties' and 'U.S. History since 1945' at Aarhus University in Denmark as a senior Fulbright lecturer in 1993. The story of Jeff Durstewitz and Ruth (Tuttle) Williams deals neither with power nor glory but with friendship, the human spirit, and the tension between idealism and realism. I am aware of no other work that so successfully cpatures the spirit and diversity of the human condition in America from 1969 to the present. This book is an extraordinary teaching tool, for it provokes as well as enlightens while bridging multiple generation gaps."—Charles Bussey, Prof. of History at Western Kentucky University
"I assigned Younger Than That Now to my honors colloquium. I have never had such a positive response ot a text as I did to this book. Students raved about how it held their interest and made them feel a special connection to their parents' generation. In fact, one student commented that it opened a dialogue between him and his father that enhanced their relationship. I highly recommend this book for college courses in both English and history."—Michael J. Pikus, Ph.D, Dept. of English at Niagara County Community College
"I have never used a book twice in any of my classes, but I am using Younger Than That Now again as a result of student demand....I love the premise, and am especially grateful for how it turned so many students on to history."—And from Marjorie Walker, Prof. of History at CSU Stanislaus