An academic's murky, meandering, and tedious case for the arguable proposition that America's learned professions should pay more systematic attention to the common weal. While Sullivan (Philosophy and Sociology/LaSalle Univ.; coauthor, Habits of the Heart, 1985) tends to avoid specifying precisely which professions he's talking about at any given time, his bromidic ruminations appear to apply mainly to architects, attorneys, and physicians—i.e., callings that require specialized training in fields of codified knowledge. When it suits the author's relentlessly progressive purposes, however, he does not shrink from including administrators, bankers, the clergy, corporate executives, educators, journalists, social scientists, and other high-profile targets in the ranks of those whose shortcomings have, in his view, undermined the public's faith in expert elites. Sullivan tracks the development of a professional class in the egalitarian US from colonial times to today when, he charges, careerism has not only devalued vocational ethics but also made practitioners derelict in their duty to serve the public. He offers constant reminders of the unfulfilled pro bono obligations he believes professionals must undertake in light of the challenges that an increasingly interdependent global society poses for genuinely democratic capitalism. Having taken the professions to task, the author calls on them to engage in thoroughgoing renewal programs that could enhance their accountability and responsibility to communities broader than peer groups. In doing so, unfortunately, he eschews even a modicum of anecdotal evidence in favor of drab critiques or restatements of perspectives borrowed from his intellectual betters: Derek Bok (The Price of Talent); Barbara Ehrenreich (Fear of Falling); and William H. Whyte Jr. (The Organization Man), among others. Sullivan also exhibits an irksome penchant for loosely defined terms, from ``civic virtue'' to ``existential cooperation.'' A do-better lecture from an ivory-tower tenant, marred his inability to analyze, let alone explain, the ideals he professes and the institutions he challenges.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-88730-727-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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