Hacker’s arguments may convince some anxious students and be welcomed by their parents, but the reaction from academics is...




A lively argument against the assumption that if the United States is to stay competitive in a global economy, our students require advanced training in mathematics.

In this book, Hacker (Emeritus, Political Science/Queens Coll.; Mismatch: The Growing Gulf Between Women and Men, 2003, etc.) expands on his piece, “Is Algebra Necessary?” which appeared in the New York Times in 2012. The author is dismayed that students are required to pass mandated mathematics courses, pointing out that it is the principal academic reason for the high dropout rate in American high schools and colleges. He shows how the requirement filters out talented liberal arts students, that math in the workplace bears little relationship to math in the classroom, and that the claim that studying math instills desirable modes of thought is built on unverified premises. Further, he alleges that there is no shortage of qualified Americans to fill positions in the computer industry but that the industry prefers to hire foreigners at entry-level positions to keep wages low. To bolster his arguments, the author sprinkles his text with pages of speech balloons containing quotes from former students who agree with him, and he inserts difficult-to-read white-on-black math problems made to look like an exercise in chalk on a classroom blackboard. Such devices are superfluous; Hacker’s prose is direct and clear. The final chapter, “Numeracy 101,” one of the most fascinating and rewarding in the book, features samples of the kind of material on quantitative reasoning Hacker believes should be taught and that he developed for an experimental introductory mathematics course. Readers who never took algebra, geometry, or calculus, or who have no recollections of what they learned in those courses, will be challenged and engaged by the exercises.

Hacker’s arguments may convince some anxious students and be welcomed by their parents, but the reaction from academics is sure to be mixed.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-068-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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