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Portraits of some European and American universities and reflections on higher education in an accessible sociological vein. Driver's tone is lively, his detachment pronounced; the book perhaps most resembles a series of Encounter articles. Gossipy tours of Manchester and Chicago are followed by examination of two university systems, those of Japan and California, toward which Driver is patronizing but well-disposed. He glances back at medieval Bologna and Oxbridge and the Sorbonne, looks around at the new ""plateglass"" universities at Vincennes and Lancaster, and comments on a few experimental ventures -- ""In England, educational utopians run schools, knowing that they would be run out of colleges. In America, they run colleges, knowing they would be run out of high schools."" There are interviews with a remarkable Morehouse student, an astrology-anthropology student at Berkeley, a British dropout, and a British dropper-in. Driver notes university real estate dealings, the regents who ""own and operate the state of California,"" etc. But his basic attitude toward critics and muckrakers is represented by the remark that although military research may contribute little to the sum of human happiness, don't complain: how would you like it if the military-industrial complex took over education altogether ""without bothering about the cultural graces of Academe?"" Academic freedom and university witchhunts, as in California, are not discussed. The student left is cursorily observed with a cheerful entomological eye. To the leftists' preference for generalizing about universities, Driver counterposes local color, and he makes the most of it. Whatever the faults, this has entertainment value.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill