Highly provocative and certain to stimulate a spate of indignant op-ed pieces and blistering bloggery.

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CRISIS ON CAMPUS

A BOLD PLAN FOR REFORMING OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Taylor (Religion/Columbia Univ.; Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living, 2009, etc.) reaffirms his call—first sounded in his controversial New York Times op-ed piece of April 27, 2009—for a drastic reform of higher education.

With this book, the author will make few friends in academia, at least among the aging and tenured professors whom he attacks. Taylor calls both for the elimination of tenure and for mandatory retirement at age 70, and he characterizes American higher education as expensive, wasteful, archaic and monolithic. He traces the current university organization to a late-18th-century treatise by Kant and argues that the system has changed little since then. Entrenched faculty, fragmented curricula, incompetent teachers, strained financial resources, outmoded teaching strategies—all combine to produce an edifice that Taylor believes is imploding. His alternatives include more flexible, adaptable and thematic interdisciplinary curricula delivered both in classrooms and via other media (principally, the Internet); faculty members who collaborate across traditional disciplines; a diminishing emphasis on research and publishing; an increasing emphasis on high-tech pedagogy; the elimination of duplicate programs at colleges and universities who share pools of potential students; and the creation of partnerships with businesses, nonprofits and other organizations. Taylor reiterates his firm belief that students must still master traditional skills of writing and reading—he required his own children to write a weekly three-page essay—but disdains those old warhorses Term Paper and Dissertation. The author’s tone is neither whimsical nor utopian. Nearing the age of mandatory retirement himself, he writes with urgency and conviction, and even fear. The resistance to change, he argues, is destructive.

Highly provocative and certain to stimulate a spate of indignant op-ed pieces and blistering bloggery.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-59329-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

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 ABOLITION OF MAN

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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