Magazine October 28, 2019, Issue

Meritocracy and Its Discontents

From the cover of The Meritocracy Trap (Penguin Press)
The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite, by Daniel Markovits (Penguin Press, 448 pp., $30)

Is Daniel Markovits miserable? His life doesn’t sound like a nightmare. Markovits, who recently turned 50, became a professor at Yale Law School in 2001, the year after it awarded him a J.D. Before that, he got his bachelor’s degree from Yale, then spent his twenties earning graduate degrees in England: one from the London School of Economics and two more from Oxford. Markovits carries on the family profession — both his parents are University of Texas law professors — with diligence and success, having published 41 professional journal articles between 2003 and 2015, the last time he updated his

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