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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England
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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  222 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
At the age of seven, Paul Watkins was roughly transplanted from his home in Rhode Island to England's Dragon School. He was greeted by a delegation of bullies who, in time, would become his friends and whose rules would become his own. For at Dragon, and later at Eton, "there was no middle ground. You could not go here and come out not caring one way or the other. You had ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 14th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Memoirs of coming from the US, to Oxford, via the famous Dragon prep school and then Eton.

It is written from the view of a young, abandoned child: the sights, smells and traditions of school life. Some parts were very evocative of the time and place and I saw parallels with when I was at boarding school in Oxford at exactly the same time (although unlike Watkins, I didn't feel abandoned, and enjoyed it).

Other incidents seem much less plausible; I wondered if they were taken from films and comi
Jul 17, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
I adore this memoir about a seven-year old American boy sent to boarding school in England. It's not the actual experience, but the way he coaxed himself through it that I connect with. I understand his journey of self-discovery through writing and the awkwardness of a difficult and lonely adjustment. "It made me sad to think that my greatest pleasure was to buy cheese and bread and coffee and sit on my window-sill, hearing the distant people laughing in the dark." That passage sums up how I ha ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Cropredy rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-culture
Well, this was interesting. I was expecting a tale told from the perspective of an American about the oddities of the British upper class schooling system, over-the-top classism, perhaps some bits on bullying, and many comparisons about the American vs English way of doing things. This book is none of those things. Instead, it is a wistful journey told linearly but where dates and chronology are not that important to Watkins. Instead, he writes mostly about the journey of becoming a man and figu ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for fans of the "boarding school novel." I happen to love them, perhaps because the only kids I knew who went to boarding schools were bad ones sent there by the juvenile courts. It wasn't very common to board schoolchildren in the US in the '70s and '80s; it's become much more common today thanks to the Harry Potter books. It's important to note the genre oif this book because otherwise, there's no much to interest a reader in this autobiographical tale. (By "boarding ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Cammie rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book this was! I glanced at the reviews of some other readers and a recurring theme seems to be that people often "stumbled across" this book. This was exactly how I found it as well. I was browsing in a second-hand bookshop when the title caught my attention and I picked up an old hardcover first edition at a bargain price.

Watkins's writing is sparing and lyrical, and he takes the reader into the world of English boarding schools in a way that captures a real sense of privilege
Feb 18, 2013 Meg rated it really liked it
Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England is Paul Watkins' memoir of his life in the British public school system, first at the Dragon School, and then at Eton.

Mr. Watkins is primarily a fiction author, and that shows in this memoir. Rather than telling the whole story in his present-day adult voice, the author instead changes his writing style to better reflect the different time periods about which he speaks. When talking about his earliest years in the schools, his circuitous st
Oct 22, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Interesting, but seemed curiously flat to me. Trying to figure out, too, why author's Rhode Island-based British parents would send him to Eton of all places! Haven't read his novels, but this book didn't make me strongly want to.
Nov 28, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it
Stand Before Your God was recommended to me by someone who went to English boarding school from the age of 8, including the same high school Paul Watkins writes about. He vouches for the accuracy of the author's description of the boarding school life, even though some things have changed since Watkins' days.

I, on the other hand, can vouch for the quality of the writing. I tore through this book like a bolt, even though it is neither a particularly dramatic or suspenseful tale. Watkins' writing
Jan 23, 2008 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Opening as a very young boy suddenly is seemingly abandoned by his father in a house with a group of other boys and a housemaster, this memoir of growing up in English boys' schools is both sincere and heartwarming. The author, Paul Watkins, shares his experiences as a young American among the, mostly, young British boys in two schools, The Dragon School and, later, Eton. The memoir is filled with memories of friendships and fun. There are typical schoolboy activities, but sometimes punctuated b ...more
Maya Rock
Jul 20, 2007 Maya Rock rated it really liked it
I got this book with a Borders gift certificate...I think from that Borders in the Westchester Pavilion, next to the Kung Fu school. What a blessing that place was.

Anyway it's clear why I picked this up--that guy is very good looking. It's a memoir by an American who goes to Eton. Do you know how hard this would be to sell? I can't imagine this book made a cent. Nevertheless it's really well-written and I think evoked a lot of the less pleasant aspects of growing up pretty well, especially in an
Nov 24, 2015 Kristy rated it liked it
This memoir documents the author's days from 7 years old until graduation as he navigates the halls of two of Britain's greatest boarding schools, Dragon and Eton. Written 10 years after the author leaves for Yale, he lets us in on a world foreign to most of us but imaginable none the less. While missing anything life-changing or profound, the expected nicknames, pranks, punishments, friends, adversaries, athletics, and personal growth are all there, including rules, rules, and more rules. The a ...more
May 05, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Initially read it because I knew Paul's late father, but it is a truly wonderful book!!
Alex Kintzer
May 12, 2014 Alex Kintzer rated it liked it
This book tells an interesting story. It tells the story of how school was - not is - but was. That is my only problem with this book; the bulk of this book is horribly dated. I can vouch for this as I am currently at one of his previous schools.

If you're after an interesting, stylishly written biography, then I would suggest it. And if you are at Eton or the Dragon then I would suggest it. But if you don't have a connection, just don't get the wrong impression and enjoy the book for what it is
Misha Fredericks
Jan 22, 2016 Misha Fredericks rated it it was amazing
Great book!
Jul 19, 2007 Jrobertus rated it liked it
a memoir of his school days in eng (although i think he is an american). a bit flat at times but still has interesting and informative moments.
Feb 21, 2008 Jody rated it really liked it
awesome personal style- he's got a real edge on telling every boys coming of age story
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Paul Watkins is an American author who currently lives with his wife and two children in Hightstown, New Jersey. He is a teacher and writer-in-residence at The Peddie School, and formerly taught at Lawrenceville School. He attended the Dragon School, Oxford, Eton and Yale University. He received a B.A. from Yale and was a University Fellow at Syracuse University, New York. His recollections of his ...more
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