The Christian Science Monitor

Rudyard Kipling loved Vermont. Then he had to leave it.

Christopher Benfey’s “If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years” draws its title from Rudyard Kipling’s most famous poem, which Benfey aptly describes as a “favorite of presidents and graduation speakers, of political conservatives and revolutionaries alike.” If none of this rings a bell, then the opening stanza probably will:

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their

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