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

SURVIVING IN POSTMODERN ACADEMIA

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

ISBN: 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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