A poet by profession, Root lost favor with the contemporary literary world for his prose. Described by Robert Frost as his greatest student, and praised by such literary luminaries as H.L. Mencken, Taylor Caldwell, and John Dos Passos, Root spent decades at Earlham College in Indiana as a poet and popular teacher. His dozen volumes of poetry are filled with lyrical images, but the foundation of his work is a positive perspective on life and a thoughtful, uplifting philosophy that deals with many of life’s most challenging questions. During the 1950s Root, a Christian and traditionalist, became disturbed with the influence of left-wing politics in the educational system. He wrote two important books to battle that influence: “Collectivism on the Campus: The Battle for the Mind in American Colleges” (1956) and “Brainwashing in the High Schools: An Examination of Eleven American History Textbooks” (1958).
Born in Baltimore in 1895, Root graduated from Amherst College and completed post-graduate studies at the University of Missouri and Andover Theological Seminary. He was appointed to his position as Professor of English at Earlham College shortly before World War I. He did not enter the political fray with his prose until late in his career, and, given the prevailing intellectual climate of the time, it’s not surprising that his books did not receive favorable treatment in the press or in scholarly circles. Retiring to New England in the early 1960s, Root began a new career as editor of several literary and poetry journals that shared his political and religious philosophies. Even in his 70s he retained the vitality, adventuresome spirit, and upbeat outlook on life for which he had always been known.