Customer Reviews for

The Secret History

Average Rating 4
( 145 )
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5 Star

(82)

4 Star

(32)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(8)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

An Outstanding Literary Work

What makes 'The Secret History' such a compelling book is its daring to examine the consequences of the arrogance of intellectual superiority, something I struggled with in my youth, something which I sometimes find myself struggling with today. Those of us who...
What makes 'The Secret History' such a compelling book is its daring to examine the consequences of the arrogance of intellectual superiority, something I struggled with in my youth, something which I sometimes find myself struggling with today. Those of us who were products of accelerated academic programs, who fell under the auspicious acronmym AP (for Advanced Placement) often felt removed from our peers and masked our underlying feelings of inferiority as erudite superiority. It is a defence mechanism many of us used when young,and sometimes continue to use as a means we tell ourselves of making us feel better about who we are. The students in TSH, even the sympathetic narrator Richard Papen, exemplify these ideas and the impulses these feelings cause them to act out are shown as having the direst of moral consequences to which they as a group and individually must answer for. The pleasures of intellectual stimulation coupled with the psychological underpinings of the deed done and how it is played out give TSH its literary resonance. In addition the book provides a builti in mystery of its own--namely the literary future, or if there is to be one, of its author, Donna Tartt. Upon a first reading nearly ten years ago, I embraced TSH and Donna Tartt as a voice I wanted to hear more of--a voice which has been noticeably and mysteriously silent, which has only served to build up the legend, and rumors of an impending second novel sometime next year. This remains to be seen but TSH continues to remain a book I turn to time and again for its exploration of moral arrogance and the destruction such attitudes can incur.

posted by Anonymous on May 7, 2001

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

A Reader from Minneapolis

Much ado about nothing. Competent writer but this book doesn't imho live up to the hype.

posted by Anonymous on December 31, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2011

    Mediocre---don't recommend

    I really wanted to like this book. It started off with good potential but about a quarter of the way through, I wanted to stop reading. The plot was so static and only made me feel frustrated.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2011

    Less profound than I had hoped.

    Just finished this book, one of several that I found based on a search for philosophical or intellectual thrillers. Given the book's title, its setting of classics students at a rural liberal arts college and the plot of the students' involvement and reaction to their serious crimes, I was hoping for a weighty story to enlighten morally, academically, or psychologically. Well, I was very disappointed. Although the book is original and interesting from beginning to end, it lacked any significant development of the characters or moral insight. Promising tidbits of greek philosophy early in the story, while necessary for the subsequent events, were not supplemented throughout the book as I had hoped. The students have an honestly profound mystical/philosophical experience early in the book, but all it portends is a descent into mundane immorality. With the learned professor Julian relegated to a minor role in the story, I feel as though a great opportunity for an enlightenment tale was lost. I love crime stories, psychological thrillers, and novels about the development of young adults. This novel fills those categories just OK, and it could have been so much more!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2008

    Okay, but not a modern classic

    The setting is incredible at first. The narration is very engaging from the start, but the characters are cliche, and the most important event in the book is explained in the first one hundred or so pages. It was definitely a let down after reading the last four hundred pages not to discover a single unpredictable detail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2002

    Not terrible but not great either

    This book didn't live up to the hype. There was virtually no suspense and the characters were pretty one dimensional but the author seems like a fairly competent writer. I would suggest she start reading Ruth Rendell to get an idea of how to write a suspenseful novel.

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    Posted October 11, 2013

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    Posted January 13, 2014

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    Posted December 5, 2013

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    Posted April 25, 2014

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    Posted March 30, 2014

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    Posted December 20, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

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