POISONED IVY by Benjamin Hart


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God and Man at Dartmouth: a sophomoric blend of nostalgia for Alma Mater (only three years after graduation) and vituperation for the assorted freakish radiclibs (pinkos, no-nukers, bleeding hearts, militant blacks, pushy lesbians, etc. in the faculty and student body) trashing the school's noble traditions. Actually, Hart, who now heads something called the ""Department of Studies"" at the Heritage Foundation, meant this to be a waspish, funny book and even got Bill Buckley to contribute a (guardedly enthusiastic) introduction. But he fires his best salvo in Chapter One (an incredible tale of how a college administrator jumped him, punched him, kicked, and bit him in the chest for delivering copies of an incendiary rightist rag, The Dartmouth Review), and soon runs out of ammunition. Subsequent complaints against President John Kemeny (a sickly, chain-smoking square who sneered at sports), the brouhaha over the Dartmouth Indian (two hockey players were suspended for skating onto the ice wearing feathers, war paint, and loincloths), the boobytraps sprung on conservative alumnus John Steel in his campaign to become a trustee, etc. are overlong and ho-hummish. Worst of all, though, is the '50s-style, ""Day we tore the goalpost down"" sentimentality: portraits of golden-hearted if constantly besotted Dartmouth jocks and frat boys; of dewy, virginal dates; of posturing young Catholic reactionaries (one even drags around a foam rubber shark on a leash, à la Sebastian Flyte). Hart damns the open elective system, which saved him from his inepititude in science, and extols the sadly neglected classics, but displays little knowledge of them. Some of the liberals at Dartmouth are undoubtedly fools, but this blast as their ranks fizzles when it doesn't backfire.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1984
Publisher: Stein & Day