The Assault on American Excellence

The Assault on American Excellence

The former dean of Yale Law School argues that the feverish egalitarianism gripping college campuses today is out of place at institutions whose job is to prepare citizens to live in a vibrant democracy. In his tenure at Yale, Anthony Kronman has watched students march across campus to protest the names of buildings and seen colleagues resign over emails about Halloween co...

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Title:The Assault on American Excellence
Author:Anthony T. Kronman
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The Assault on American Excellence Reviews

  • Steve

    A provocative look at the several of the forces eroding higher education in today's America. One doesn't have to agree with everything (part of the point of the book-- academia is not the same as democracy), but this, along with The Coddling of the American Mind, is an important book for anyone who cares about learning and what's going on right now.

  • Timothy Hall

    Kronman was dean of the Yale Law School for a decade beginning in 1994. Although he is a self-described progressive, this book is a vigorous assault on the supposed value of "diversity" in higher education. He would have supported uses of affirmative action by colleges and universities to remedy past societal discrimination along lines of race, unlike the majority of Supreme Court justices in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978). Nevertheless, he argues that the Supreme Court'

    Kronman was dean of the Yale Law School for a decade beginning in 1994. Although he is a self-described progressive, this book is a vigorous assault on the supposed value of "diversity" in higher education. He would have supported uses of affirmative action by colleges and universities to remedy past societal discrimination along lines of race, unlike the majority of Supreme Court justices in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978). Nevertheless, he argues that the Supreme Court's determination that the value of educational diversity justifies race-conscious admissions policies in higher education has had a destructive effect on the life of colleges and universities. This is so, he suggests, because the emphasis on diversity undermines the commitment he believes higher education should have to a humanistic ideal of excellence in living.

  • An older friend is missing following Dorian. One of the last things she did was send me, and my "sister" group, this book after we talked about Kochland. She even got a wise old teacher to agree to read it then lead an online chat/discussion about the book starting Friday. I have not slept well so have finished. This is a discussion book. It presents a view none of my friends will agree with totally but we can all argue over. It is an academic book so a challenge read. It offers both sides of an

    An older friend is missing following Dorian. One of the last things she did was send me, and my "sister" group, this book after we talked about Kochland. She even got a wise old teacher to agree to read it then lead an online chat/discussion about the book starting Friday. I have not slept well so have finished. This is a discussion book. It presents a view none of my friends will agree with totally but we can all argue over. It is an academic book so a challenge read. It offers both sides of an argument about college education. The author favors an aristocratic kind of orientation. If you are as dead set against the 1% rule then this will push you consider what they think as conservatives. Thanks EB! Please come back to us by Friday to join our discussion.

  • Mehrsa

    Seems that the easiest book to get published these days is a long rant about how safe spaces and renaming buildings and complaining minorities are ruining everything. As if Bret Stephens and David Brookes repeated columns aren't enough, we need several full books of unintelligible ranting. This book is mostly that--the minorities are ruining everything with their feelings. But that's not totally fair--it's also a (weird) attempt to restore the Aristocratic tradition of excellence (that I guess t

    Seems that the easiest book to get published these days is a long rant about how safe spaces and renaming buildings and complaining minorities are ruining everything. As if Bret Stephens and David Brookes repeated columns aren't enough, we need several full books of unintelligible ranting. This book is mostly that--the minorities are ruining everything with their feelings. But that's not totally fair--it's also a (weird) attempt to restore the Aristocratic tradition of excellence (that I guess the minorities are also coming after?)--the idea at the bulk of this tradition is that some people are better than others at being human and having big thoughts and it's ok for the University to cater to them. Fair enough, but what does the rant have to do with that? And why does Kronman not seem to picture a minority when describing the excellent aristocrat (that's a rhetorical question, obviously).

    But to be really really fair, there is a nugget at the core of this book that I wholeheartedly agree with--actually I agree with most of it, but it's so littered with lazy thinking that I won't give him credit when he stumbles on obvious truths. The nugget is his analysis of Bakke--this is the supreme court case that justified affirmative action on diversity grounds. This was a terrible decision. Justice Thurgood Marshall blasted the court in a dissent (one that Kronman and I both agree was right). Affirmative ACtion was justified because of historic wrongs and the uneven playing field. The Court said it is only justified to create diversity in colleges and since then affirmative action and diversity have been a muddled mess of reasoning. Kronman would like to go back and change history--or otherwise, stop pursuing diversity because he thinks diversity takes away from excellence. I, too, believe the decision was wrong, but I think it's cynical and wrong to say that diversity is the reason for the "assault on American excellence."

  • Kevin

    Appreciate his points - and agree with nearly all of them - but this book could have been shorter and more direct.

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