Hunter provides some important balance for excesses in contemporary amorality, but he won't be able to roll back the tide...



A too-strongly argued case for modifying moral education and rescuing character from the self-esteem Nazis and feel-good shrinks.

Sociologist Hunter (Before the Shooting Begins, 1994) echoes Neitzsche at the start by declaring that `Character is dead.` He goes on to describe how the humanistic and Bible-based moral education of the past has been replaced by subjective values and vapid advice (on the order of `Just say no`). Having adopted the optimistic premises of secular psychology, teachers believe that morality is innate and will flourish if left alone. Traditional family values, where children bowed to parents and didn't speak until spoken to, have become `offensive to our cosmopolitan sensibilities.` Hunter's third source of moral guidelines—besides the psychological strategy (if it feels good, it must be right) favored by liberals and the neo-classical strategy (to err is sinful) maintained by conservatives—may be found in the values of social consensus, based on shared experience. Rather than suggesting this synthesis between the extremes, Hunter is mostly concerned with accusing liberals of crucifying character. A history of the reformers who led up to Dewey (such as Horace Mann, the progressive Unitarian who robbed schoolroom Bible-reading of its Calvinist interpretations) is mapped out. Hunter also provides survey questions on character issues, such as cheating on exams and premarital sex. The charted results show that children with the contemporary, psychological-based sense of character are five times more likely than religious children to condone suicide. Hunter strongly makes his point, but he fails to address the question of what negative effects theist concepts and upbringing can inculcate in children.

Hunter provides some important balance for excesses in contemporary amorality, but he won't be able to roll back the tide that has long since washed over us.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-465-04730-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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