The Winter 2011–12 issue of Claremont Review of Books is now in the mail, and the table of contents is up on their website.
The issue includes my portmanteau review of Andrew Ferguson’s Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kids Into College and In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic by the wisely anonymous “Professor X.”
From my review:
So here is Professor X flogging reluctant, work-weary evening classes through the basics of grammar, rhetoric, and composition. It reads to me like a vision of hell, though the author claims persuasively to find some satisfactions in it.
The wretched souls being tormented in that hell belong to the most oppressed, persecuted, and disadvantaged segment of our population: the un-bookish. Somehow we have arrived in the 21st century with a class of rulers so bereft of imagination they cannot conceive that anyone would wish to be less educated than themselves. When a politician addresses schoolchildren, it is to urge bookishness on them. Thus Barack Obama in his 2009 back-to-school address to the nation’s students: “You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer, or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers.” So much for mechanics, gardeners, fishermen, glaziers, loggers, athletes, barbers, truckers, cooks, butchers, roofers, miners, crane operators, manicurists, linemen, dancers, cameramen, steel fixers, personal trainers, carpenters, brewers, florists, ranchers, masons, potters . . . The hell with them! “Ten thousand occupations are lowly; only book learning is exalted.” Thus the Chinese proverb: thus the attitude to useful, honest work in an imperial-bureaucratic despotism run by arrogant scholar-officials. How long can it be before our law-school elites begin sporting six-inch fingernails, like the Mandarins of old Peking?
Read the whole thing, and many other fine essays and reviews, in conservatism’s answer to . . . some other review of books, I forget the name . . .