This critique of American education offers further subversion from Postman a quarter of a century after his Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Education must have a purpose. And the traditional purposes of American schools, the old cultural ``gods,'' as Postman (Culture and Communications/New York Univ.; Technopoly, 1992, etc.) labels them, are no longer viable. According to the god of Economic Utility, for example, there is a direct link between hard work and success. Yet there is little evidence in our society to document this. In fact, states Postman, during periods of high economic productivity, standards of educational achievement were not particularly rigorous. In our current economy we cannot assume that well-paying, meaningful jobs will be available to most students upon graduation. Since 1980, moreover, the author reveals that the largest increase in jobs has been in work requiring relatively low skills. A more recent god that has failed is the god of Multiculturalism, which Postman describes as ``a psychopathic version of cultural pluralism, and, of course, extremely dangerous.'' A multicultural curriculum, he declares, is liable to distort history and fall into the hands of extremists and propagandists whose main goal is to undermine European culture. Does this iconoclastic author of 20 books find any gods left to serve? Postman does feel American education can be salvaged with much reform. Multiculturalism, for example, should be replaced with a constructive law of diversity that allows us to ``help the young transcend individual identity by finding inspiration in a story of humanity.'' Anthropology, astronomy, and archeology, fluid fields requiring analysis rather than memorization, should become major areas of study. Education would improve overnight, contends Postman, if teachers were to get rid of all textbooks. Socially, schools must create ways to engage students in the care of their own school facilities and neighborhoods or towns. A provocative and insightful assessment of and challenge to contemporary American education.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43006-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet