I'm in the middle of Susan Jacoby's new book and if Slate worries that the American teenager is "stunningly ignorant" of history and literature in particular, it looks as though they're just keeping up with their parents.
Jacoby has been around a lot lately and the book is an evenhanded and provocative look at American attitudes in regard to education. She takes on the conservative credo that the Sixties ruined everything, and indeed traces what she sees as a uniquely American suspicion of intellectuals back to the Revolutionary War. She's digs deeper when discussing decades past, but Jacoby is comfortable in today's vernacular and cultural references as well; and footnotes abound.
I've always been aware of the big hole I have in classical education and even modern founding text (Origin of Species, Federalist Papers, etc.) and books like this go a long way toward filling in some gaps, for which I'm very grateful.
I'm about two-thirds through, and I'm very impressed. This is droll, engaging and very necessary stuff. If nothing else, it shows that George W didn't just come out of nowhere.
Posted by Dave