Another faithful-oppositionist lament over—and explanation of—the wreckage of American college education, this time from English professor Douglas (Univ. of Illinois; All Aboard!, The Smart Magazines, etc.). Citing Thorstein Veblen, William James, and H.L. Mencken, Douglas argues that the seeds of present woe in undergraduate education were sown back in the 19th century when two things happened: The structure of the university came to be modeled on the business corporation (where ``productivity,'' not individual students, is what mattered); and the Ph.D. (``an imported monstrosity'') became the new qualifying badge for professors, causing ``specialization''—instead of general liberal educating— to become the university's commodity of true prestige. These great historical errors went hand in hand with an erroneous but typically American and efficiency-minded view of education as a passive receiving of information rather than (as in the English tutorial system) an intimate nurturing of individual knowledge and judgment. Douglas sees the student revolts of the 60's not as the cause of present-day ills, but as the moment when the already depersonalized universities ``made the complete adjustment to the masses that had arrived since World War II''—when what was left of liberal education ``was pummeled, shrunk, de-toothed if you will.'' As it's left now, the corporate-style university offers little challenge, intimacy, guidance, or enrichment to undergraduates, its own prior hollowness making it easy prey to the self-serving anticanonists, Marxists, multiculturalists, theorists, and Mandarin specialists who may claim to bring reform but in fact bring only more forced- feeding and less liberating of individual minds than ever. Largely anecdotal in method and based on long, observed experience: a plea for simple intellectual honesty and a return of the human dimension in undergraduate education. Passionate, reasoned, and untendentious—easily deserving a visible place on the Crisis-in-the-Colleges shelf.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-124-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1992

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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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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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