A LOWER MIDDLE CLASS EDUCATION

Following up his narrative of his rural Missouri childhood in Mid-Lands (1992), Davis (English/Univ. of Oklahoma) modestly offers a memoir of his middle-of-the-road, middlebrow, 1950s Kansas City college career. If a middle-class education (i.e., Ivy League) is ``supposed to help you maintain status so that your family can understand what you are saying,'' a lower-middle-class education is, according to Davis, ``supposed to help you improve your status so that your family will not understand what you are saying.'' Many of Davis's generation were the first in their families to leave home to attend college, and although this was not quite the case with Davis, he did arrive at the Jesuit-run Rockhurst College as a slightly bookish farmboy with an unexpungeable accent. Revisiting his college records and papers, Davis is abashed to discover a recruiting letter that boasted of a student body of ``average Joes scholastically'' and a prospectus that rhetorically asked, ``Does training by men and with men mean more to you?'' Davis finds his youthful self equally obtuse, not to mention naive politically, romantically, and intellectually. An undistinguished face in his class picture, his student-self is portrayed, with some lenience and affection, as semiconscious of the Korean War, oblivious to the Eisenhower recession, emotionally untutored with his first sweetheart, and in general too busy with intramural sports, the college paper, and ``barracks'' life to acquire a genuine education. While Davis writes with rueful clarity about life in a small midwestern college in the 1950s, he frequently strikes chords that transcend time and place. In contrast to recent let-it-all-hang-out autobiographies from academics, such as Frank Lentricchia's The Edge of Night (1994), Davis's personal memoir of the Silent Generation's college years stirs up nostalgia with low-key irony. (14 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8061-2848-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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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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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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