I was saddened to see the story about Professor Stanley Stein’s passing (In Memoriam, Feb. 12). Professor Stein will always have a special place in my Princeton experience. As an undergrad I took his course on Latin America and got to know him personally a bit. We were both native New Yorkers and very proud of our roots.
After Princeton, I continued my study of history at Stony Brook. During one of our seminars we were tasked with discussing Stein’s definitive work, The Colonial Heritage of Latin America. Most of my classmates had a different interpretation of the work than I had. I basically told the class that I disagreed and would prove that my position was correct. I immediately wrote a letter to Stein at Princeton explaining my position. After 10 days, I still hadn’t received a reply and dreaded going to that seminar. Another week went by and I received an air-mail letter from Brazil. Evidently, he was on sabbatical, and it took a while for the letter to get to him. Luckily, he supported my position. I then marched into the seminar armed with his letter. I read it out loud and experienced one of the highlights of my academic career.
Professor Stein was a very dedicated teacher. He was probably busy doing research in Brazil, but not too busy for a former student. I have told that story over the years many times when I’m asked about the caliber of professors at Princeton.