A sometimes pleasant adventure that loses its credibility when it ventures into the darker side of on-campus life.

Fun and Games on Campus and How College Presidents Earn Their Big Dollars

Debut author Iosue’s humorous memoir recounts his time as the college president at York College in Pennsylvania.

Iosue describes the comedic travails of college presidents—fundraising attempts with eccentric elderly millionaires, events with temperamental musicians and speakers, and everyday debacles with drunken frat boys. The author’s persona is that of an old-school curmudgeon with Calvinist tendencies and an Ozzie and Harriet manner. He opposes coed cohabitation, pets on campus and all manner of freewheeling student behavior. Organized by types of interactions—“A Typical Day” and “Fraternity Frolics” are two chapter titles—the book chronicles Iosue’s struggle not to lose his mind or his temper amid life on campus. Most winningly, the author isn’t afraid to mock his own character flaws, devoting many details to the large egos of college presidents. He even shares his failed attempts to get Frank Sinatra to appear on campus. His first-person narrative of his misadventures is told in a droll, polished style. However, Iosue’s evident conservative bent may irk some readers. While most will laugh at his descriptions of drunken fraternity antics, his jabs at Transgender Studies and mentions of the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas case may alienate some of his audience. In particular, the chapter on sexual harassment—where Iosue largely throws up his hands at the university’s inability to determine guilt or innocence and comments on harassment of students he considers “schlumpy”—is an unfortunate subject choice that will leave some readers fuming. At minimum, it undermines Iosue’s authority and sympathy as a narrator. It is one thing for a college president to joke about keg parties on campus, but another to approach sexual harassment in a flippant or jocular way.

A sometimes pleasant adventure that loses its credibility when it ventures into the darker side of on-campus life.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475250725

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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