The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy / Edition 1

The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy / Edition 1

3.6 9
by Lemann
     
 

A major work of social history that asks profound moral and political questions about what is right for American society.

This brilliant book shows us for the first time the ideas, the people, and the politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed modern America.

The experiment-launched by James Bryant Conant, president of Harvard

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Overview

A major work of social history that asks profound moral and political questions about what is right for American society.

This brilliant book shows us for the first time the ideas, the people, and the politics behind a fifty-year-old utopian social experiment that changed modern America.

The experiment-launched by James Bryant Conant, president of Harvard University, and Henry Chauncey, head of the brand-new Educational Testing Service (ETS)-was to use the then-young science of intelligence testing to assess and sort American students in order to create a new democratic elite that would lead postwar America to progress, strength, and prosperity. No writer before Nicholas Lemann has gained access to the archives of the all-powerful ETS, and none has understood the significance of this extraordinary drama. But now, in a remarkable synthesis of vibrant storytelling, vivid portraiture, and thematic analysis, he reveals this secret history.

Predictably, the utopian experiment did not turn out as planned. It created a new elite, but it generated conflict and tension, and American society's best-educated, most privileged people are now leaders with no followers.

Lemann shows that this American meritocracy is neither natural nor inevitable, and it does not apportion opportunity equally or fairly. He concludes with his own keen assessment of what the future may hold.

Notes/Index

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374299842
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.33(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Paperback Edition
Bk. 1The Moral Equivalent of Religion
1Henry Chauncey's Idea3
2The Glass Slipper17
3Native Intelligence27
4The Natural Aristocracy42
5Victory53
6IQ Joe70
7The Census of One Ability81
8The Standard Gauge96
9In the System109
10Meritocracy115
Bk. 2The Master Plan
11Rah! Rah! Rah!125
12Chauncey at Yale140
13The Negro Problem155
14The Fall of Clark Kerr166
15The Invention of the Asian-American174
16Mandarins185
17The Weak Spot198
18Working212
19The Fall of William Turnbull218
Bk. 3The Guardians
20Behind the Curtain235
21Berkeley Squeezed241
22Molly's Crisis255
23The Case of Winton Manning268
24Surprise Attack278
25No Retreat293
26The Fundis and the Realos300
27Changing Sides309
28Defeat323
Epilogue337
Afterword to the Paperback Edition: A Real Meritocracy342
Notes352
Acknowledgments391
Index395

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