A wise perspective on America’s cultural divide.

IN DEFENSE OF ELITISM

WHY I'M BETTER THAN YOU AND YOU'RE BETTER THAN SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T BUY THIS BOOK

The rise of populism inspired a journalist’s search for answers.

Former Time staff writer and columnist Stein (Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, 2012) brings wit, irreverence, and considerable thoughtfulness to a timely issue: the rise of anti-elitism in politics, science, education, and many other areas that privilege knowledge and expertise. “Elites are people who think; populists are people who believe,” he writes. “Elites defer to experts; populists listen to their own guts. Elites value cooperation; populists are tribal.” To help elites turn back the populist trend, the author decided to investigate what populists want, why they think as they do, and how elites can maintain and defend their authority in a changing world. His search took him to Miami, Texas, a town of about 600 residents, more than 95 percent of them Trump voters. As he expected, they own guns, are faithful congregants of the First Baptist Church, and take every opportunity “to delegitimize expertise.” The Miamians think that hyphenated Americans only inflame racial and ethnic conflict. “Elites may have not caused racism,” they contend, “but they’ve magnified racial tensions, in the same way that abolitionists exacerbated our nation’s problem with slavery.” They trust one another but not their country. “They’re living in a remote tribal island,” Stein concludes, “untouched by the last thirty years.” Yet, they welcomed the author—a journalist and a Jew—warmly. Stein’s research also took him to elite conferences, where, he discovered, “the elite dream, is not to own a yacht but to give a TED talk.” Among Stein’s interviewees are FOX political commentator Tucker Carlson, who rants against diversity, and “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, who has bought into the “primordial masculinity” of populism, along with its conspiracy theories. Stein repeatedly—and persuasively—makes a case for expertise. “The world seems fragile and I want trustworthy, trained people running it,” he writes. As for the “Intellectual Elites” who do, precariously, run the world, he offers a word of advice: respect. Listen without judging or mocking; negotiate with empathy.

A wise perspective on America’s cultural divide.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-9147-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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