“Rachel Silber Devlin’s fine portrait of her father is filled with such illuminating private detail, with stories that would have been unavailable to anyone who had not been there for all of those years—anyone who was not John Silber’s child. Her rendering has a transcendent objectivity and clarity and understanding that could only come from having known him as she did. Here are the Texas roots, the antecedents—the cultural and family background, the accumulation of intimate and accidental details, the stories.”
—from the Foreword by Lance Morrow, American writer and author of seven books, whose award winning essays are published in several magazines, including more than 150 cover stories in TIME

Snapshots of My Father, John Silber is a candid and extensively illustrated biography of John Silber, who entirely transformed Boston University as its president and was a controversial, yet intellectually formidable, candidate for governor of Massachusetts. In this book, Rachel Silber Devlin looks at her family and her father’s trajectory from Texas to Boston and what life became like there; she examines his personality and temperament; and she describes his later years, the hardships he weathered and his continued accomplishments out of the public eye.

Devlin chose to tell her father’s story because John Silber is so controversial and widely misunderstood. People who knew him either loved him or hated him. Each chapter is like a snapshot taken from a daughter’s perspective, peering into the past she saw.

Silber championed freedom of speech, believing all sides should be heard, especially on college campuses. He was also the father of seven children. Snapshots of My Father is a clear-eyed vision of this authentic man of principle who had a drive to achieve great things.

*The book includes over 200 images from Boston University and family archives.*


  • Was the president and chancellor who entirely transformed Boston University from a commuter school to a renowned institution of learning and research
  • Was born with a birth defect that shortened his right arm, Silber became an outstanding scholar, athlete, artist, and leader
  • Was a controversial, yet intellectually formidable, candidate for governor of Massachusetts. Learn the background of the television interview that some say cost Silber the election.
  • Was friends with artists Ray Kinstler and Niel Welliver, scholar Elie Wiesel, and writer Tom Wolfe
  • Was chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and served on the original commission that created Head Start


  • Education and Culture—Silber was known for protecting freedom of speech on campus and being instrumental in the creation of Head Start, the Boston Scholars Program, and the Huntington Theater.
    • November is National Education Month and Inspirational Role Models Month
  • Liberal or Conservative?—Why was John Silber considered liberal at the University of Texas but conservative at Boston University? 
  • The race for governor of Massachusetts—Behind the scenes details lend a different perspective to the events and the outcome of the election. Would John Silber have made a good Governor of Massachusetts? 
  • Racism—Some people called John Silber a racist for being against luring people to the state with promises of welfare benefits. Rachel can  bring to light all the  overwhelming evidence that he was NOT
  • Silber Shockers—“When you’ve had a long life and you’re ripe, then it’s time to go.” When the doctors offered him a kidney transplant, he refused to deprive a younger person who might need it just as much
  • Strong women—Besides taking pride in having a wife with a brilliant intelligence, and six highly individual and confident daughters, Silber had a tremendous regard for the strength of his mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Rachel shares how these women in John’s life helped shape him and his family
    • November is Families’ Stories Month
  • The AIDS epidemic—A devastating diagnosis for the family 



  • Families’ Stories Month
  • National Education Month
  • National Inspirational Role Models Month
  • National Life Writing Month
  • National Family Week – Nov 20-26


  • Read a New Book Month
  • Universal Human Rights Month
  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Dec 3


  • National Mentoring Month
  • National Motivation and Inspiration Day – Jan 2
  • I’m Not Going to Take it Anymore Day – Jan 7
  • Hunt for Happiness Week – Jan 15-21


Author Rachel Silber Devlin is one of John Silber’s seven children. As a wife, mother, teacher and writer, she has always had a strong sense of who she was apart from any labels. Devlin says that she sometimes feels like she and her dad grew up together because she knew him so well from a time when he was young and still learning how to make his way in the world. She divides her time between her homes in Texas and Massachusetts, the states where her children and grandchildren live.