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As Geraldine Brooks tells it, Bronson Alcott was not a particularly likable man. In the person of John March, the protagonist of Brooks’ meticulously researched March, he’s proud, priggish, and unable to connect with the Union troops he, as chaplain, is entrusted with comforting. “‘You can’t seem to get on with anyone,’ his superior officer tells him. “‘Even Tyndale can’t abide you—and he’s as much of an abolitionist as you are….[Y]ou’re too radical for these mill-town lads.’” Not to mention that he’s vegetarian, vaguely heretical, and given to flights of interior monologue the mill-town boys would probably kill him for if they heard it. The inspiration for the absentee father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and a friend of Thoreau and Emerson, the real-life Alcott was an influential educator and Transcendentalist, if a poor provider, and you may find yourself rooting for Brooks’ clueless idealist when she reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Caroline Schweiter)