The brothers Solomon—Robert (Philosophy/Univ. of Texas at Austin; A Passion for Justice, 1990, etc.) and Jon (Classics/Univ. of Arizona)—take a bracingly common-sensical approach—in the form of 137 sermonettes—to the problems everybody agrees are dogging the American university. Briskly eschewing the theoretical baggage of Allan Bloom and Charles Sykes, the authors argue that American universities, for all their energy and resourcefulness, have lost sight of their primary mission—undergraduate education—in the name of will-o'-the-wisp prestige and fat outside grants for research that, however valuable, often have scant connection to that educational mission. ``Professors are now for sale,'' the Solomons announce in the manner of Ross Perot, and they have plenty of homespun suggestions on how to bring the sheep and their straying shepherds back to the fold. Some of these are surprisingly persuasive: Require administrators to teach; hire students as tutors and advisors; end the ``five-year fraud'' that keeps so many students in college, paying out tuition, past their nominal graduation date. Other proposals, however, sound eccentric or cranky: Mandate open admissions in all state schools; discourage most high-school students from going on directly to college; replace tenured appointments with five-year contracts; abolish departments, course requirements, teaching awards, and used-book sales. There's something here to offend just about everyone—the authors' pamphleteering strain becomes coarsest in their remarks about English departments, those hotbeds of factitious political debate—but their deepest rancor is reserved for professional administrators, who come off looking like hired guns whose cupidity is equalled only by their ineptness. The Solomons' solution? Return university governance to the faculty while riding those wastrels out of town on a rail. A commonplace book more full of sound bites than a political convention: perfect bedside reading for academics who want to drift off to sleep believing that they really can make a difference in recalling the education business to its true vocation.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-57719-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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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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