A critical, sensible, charming view of modern academic life.


In her first book, author Greenwood Jones chronicles her professorial adventures as an unconventional academic.

Greenwood Jones didn’t receive her Ph.D. until she was nearly 50 years old and found herself vying for work in a hypercompetitive environment oversaturated with qualified candidates. After getting married and adopting a child, Greenwood Jones put getting a doctorate on hold and devoted herself to family, high school teaching, and a bottomless enthusiasm for tennis. She finally recommitted herself to academic work and encountered a slew of challenges: age discrimination, sexism (even at her beloved alma mater), and a job market built around the exploitation of adjunct lecturers. She also encountered infinitely picayune intramural disputes fueled by ego—especially at the hands of one of her mentors. Greenwood Jones sharply observes the shifting intellectual environment of higher education—she skewers its political correctness, the increasing insularity of academic research, and its faddishness, as well as its excessive obeisance to programmatic Marxism. The author spent the main of her career working for community colleges, but far from being resentful of professional marginalization, she recognizes some of the intellectual advantages of that fate: “True, I’ve spent most of my career ‘only’ on the community college level, but I’ve loved it; even preferred it; finding satisfaction in preparing students for universities, teaching useful basics rather than Marxist mumbo jumbo.” In fact, one wishes that Greenwood Jones devoted more of the book to these assessments; it doubles as a memoir and a critique of the modern American academy. Greenwood Jones finally found a tenure-track job in California—she spent some years marooned in Pennsylvania, apart from her family—and spent the last 20 years teaching there, in a peculiar state of professional fulfillment and estrangement. Her prose is refreshingly anecdotal, avoiding the turbid vernacular of collegiate communication. The uniqueness of Greenwood Jones’ place in campus culture (she’s a self-professed Mormon Democrat) permits the perch of both the insider and outsider, and the result is a remembrance brimming with common sense, and even wisdom.

A critical, sensible, charming view of modern academic life.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...


The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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