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In Defense of Excellence

Posted by on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in Book Reviews, En Banc.

Jasper L. Tran | 73 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 71 |

Reviewed: Anthony T. Kronman, THE ASSAULT ON AMERICAN EXCELLENCE, Free Press 2019. Pp. 272. $27.00 Hardcover.

“Up until recently, excellence had been an educational ideal. At the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1852, John Henry Newman envisioned a university as a community of thinkers engaging in intellectual pursuits as an end in itself and teaching students “to think and to reason and to compare and to discriminate and to analyse.” Even thirteen decades later, Americans were still holding on to and teaching our children this very ideal “to respect the diversity of ideas that is fundamental to the American system.” But that understanding has changed. Just half a decade thereafter, Allan Bloom’s bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind, sparked an intense debate on the issue of viewpoint diversity by contending that academia has been forgoing intellectual openness to pursue egalitarianism. Anthony Kronman’s new book, The Assault on American Excellence, continues this conversation more than three decades later, describing the recent loss of intellectual diversity (pluralism) and arguing for a return to the pursuit of excellence in higher education.”

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Jasper L. Tran