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Americans have always stubbornly clung to the myth of egalitarianism, of the supremacy of the individual average man. But here, at long last, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic William A. Henry III takes on, and debunks, some basic, fundamentally ingrained ideas: that everyone is pretty much alike (and should be); that self-fulfillment is more imortant thant objective achievement; that everyone has something significant to contribute; that all cultures offer something equally worthwhile; that a truly just society would automatically produce equal success results across lines of race, class, and gender; and that the common man is almost always right. Henry makes clear, in a book full of vivid examples and unflinching opinions, that while these notions are seductively democratic they are also hopelessly wrong.
"A passionate yet reasoned argument for the proposition that some people simply contribute more to society than others. It challenges head-on the presumptions and platitudes of government, academia, and even private industry." -- The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
"A wide-ranging, free-swinging commentary that will raise the hackles of nearly everyone." -- New York Times.
"Bracing... eloquent testimony that what killed liberalism in this country is a deeply misguided egalitarianism." -- The New York Times Book Review.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For someone who doesn't think he is a racist, let's just say his views on minority groups are complicated. He is most definitely ethnocentric: he believes some cultures are better (not simply different) than others, and much of that rating has to do with the ability to conquer the "inferior ones," who show their inferiority by losing. For him, might most definitely makes right.When he's not trumpeting his low opinions on non-White Anglo-Saxon male Protestants (he refuses to refer to Native Americans as "Native," but views them as immigrant Asians, and thus no more entitled to the Americas than the equally immigrant Europeans, and women should especially approach this book with caution: the reason, for example, that we study so little about women in school is that they weren't really doing anything worth commenting on), he does score some saner observations on the trends in education. But frankly, by that time his voice in my head sounds so disparaging of everyone less privileged, it was difficult to ignore the barely-hidden subtext.Not recommended.
There is something that offends both in the title and text of this book, but in this era, when the US is falling far behind in culture, science, research, and education there could be a case made that since it seems impossible for parents to as Obama explains it 'turn off the TV, the video games, parents", he is really speaking to a "dumbing down' that is going on in US society that public education seems unable to address because the nonelites do not find school relevant. Hence it may be better to admit this up front, admit that some will be "left behind" and get on with identifying and improving the nations elites to compete with the world's other elites.