beamThis week on The Marketplace of Ideas, a conversation about the Encyclopædia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World with journalist Alex Beam, author of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books. Launched in 1952 by “boy wonder” University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins and philosopher Mortimer Adler, the project collected works from the likes of Homer, Aristotle, Chaucer, Newton and Darwin, improbably going on to sell hundreds of thousands of sets via sometimes overly aggressive door-to-door salesmen before rapidly falling out of fashion.

The Marketplace of Ideas airs Tuesdays at 8am.