Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
Hachette Books, Hardcover, 9781401301125, 304pp.
Publication Date: March 2, 2005
In the spirit of Scott Turow's One L and David Brooks's Bobos in Paradise, a penetrating critique of elite universities and the culture of privilege they perpetuate, written by a recent Harvard alumnus. Part memoir, part social critique, Privilege is an absorbing assessment of one of the world's most celebrated universities: Harvard. In this sharp, insightful account, Douthat evaluates his social and academic education--most notably, his frustrations with pre-established social hierarchies and the trumping of intellectual rigor by political correctness and personal ambition. The book addresses the spectacles of his time there, such as the embezzlement scandal at the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Professor Cornel West's defection to Princeton. He also chronicles the more commonplace but equally revealing experiences, including social climbing, sexual relations, and job hunting. While the book's narrative centers on Harvard, its main arguments have a much broader concern: the state of the American college experience. Privilege is a pointed reflection on students, parents, and even administrators and professors who perceive specific schools merely as stepping-stones to high salaries and elite social networks rather than as institutions entrusted with academic excellence. A book full of insightful perceptions and illuminating detail, Privilege is sure to spark endless debates inside and outside the ivied walls.