Read In Defense of Elitism by William A. Henry III Online

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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic for Time magazine comes the tremendously controversial, yet highly persuasive, argument that our devotion to the largely unexamined myth of egalitarianism lies at the heart of the ongoing "dumbing of America."Americans have always stubbornly clung to the myth of egalitarianism, of the supremacy of the individual average man. BFrom the Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic for Time magazine comes the tremendously controversial, yet highly persuasive, argument that our devotion to the largely unexamined myth of egalitarianism lies at the heart of the ongoing "dumbing of America."Americans have always stubbornly clung to the myth of egalitarianism, of the supremacy of the individual average man. But here, at long last, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic William A. Henry III takes on, and debunks, some basic, fundamentally ingrained ideas: that everyone is pretty much alike (and should be); that self-fulfillment is more important than objective achievement; that everyone has something significant to contribute; that all cultures offer something equally worthwhile; that a truly just society would automatically produce equal success results across lines of race, class, and gender; and that the common man is almost always right. Henry makes clear, in a book full of vivid examples and unflinching opinions, that while these notions are seductively democratic they are also hopelessly wrong....

Title : In Defense of Elitism
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ISBN : 9780385479431
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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In Defense of Elitism Reviews

  • Evan
    2019-05-23 16:43

    The librarian gave me a dirty look when I signed this book out. It's usually self-serve but I set off the book-detector alarm at the door and she had to re-scan them all individually, possibly to prevent electrical infetterence. She touched this one like it was a dead rat. She also had to virtually re-scan all seventy of the books I have piled up at home, one by one, because uni policy says that enrolled students get to take out as many library books as they want. She wondered aloud who "this policy" was supposed to benefit, me, or the library? Me I guess!

  • Exrex
    2019-05-16 19:51

    A very angry liberal, who is dying, writes about what is wrong with modern liberalism, and why equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are two different things.I have actually read this book more than once. Very thought provoking.

  • C.S.
    2019-05-14 20:44

    I certainly didn't agree with everything in this book. I doubt most people would. But I didn't disagree with everything, either, and that's the point, to make the reader reexamine the traditional ideas of democracy, equality, and egalitarianism, and the sometimes fanatical lengths to which we pursue them. It made me think of the political climate of the last few years; in our zeal to protect and promote our ideas and values, we have just as often betrayed them. We have been so blinded by our goal that we have rarely stopped to question whether it was a good and just goal to begin with.We have dedicated ourselves (especially those of us on the left side of the political spectrum) to this idea of equality for all. But we have ignored completely the simple fact that not everyone is equal, and nothing we can do will change that. Some people are simply smarter, more talented, more driven or ambitious than their peers. Some people simply have more to offer society than those around them. Some people ARE elite. This cannot possibly be argued.Yet somehow, "elite" and "elitist" have become among our gravest insults. Politicians are so afraid of the label that they will go to any length to appeal to the majority, to appear normal, all the while forgetting that if they WERE normal, they wouldn't be qualified for the jobs they want in the first place. Is there really a demographic out there that thinks that a quote-unquote normal person could ever handle the job of president, senator, governor effectively? I would hope the historical record would put that myth to rest, especially after two terms of the Bush presidency. Normalcy is not a qualification or an endorsement; to be a leader in any field requires skills and abilities that most people do not and could not ever possess. Nothing will ever change that.Instead of blindly pursuing equality, a fundamentally flawed notion, we should instead be pursuing equality of opportunity. Not every child will be a president or a doctor, or should be. Some will be janitors and laborers and factory workers because that is the limit of their ability or their ambition. (And there's nothing wrong with that; society needs all those jobs. If the supposed elite have made one fundamental mistake it is in allowing objective judgements about a person's value to come off as moral judgements. It is entirely possible for a guy who sweeps floors for a living to be just as good or better a person as a guy in a lab working to cure cancer. But because of their roles in life, one is worth more to society than the other. The judgement of elite versus non-elite is quantitative, not qualitative.) Instead of trying to bring everyone to the same level, which can never, ever work, our goal should be to ensure that everyone is afforded the same chances, so that those who are naturally better will be able to prove themselves, regardless of their background. We have to allow the cream to rise to the top, because we need it.In short, elitism-- provided that it is true, and merit-based elitism-- is in the best interests of everyone. Elitism is a good thing. We can argue back and forth on the specifics as much as we like (as I would on many, many points in this book), but until we accept this basic fact, society will never progress beyond a certain point.

  • Anthony
    2019-04-24 00:42

    William A. Henry III is a liberal's liberal. Among his other works is an apologia on how the Democrats saw the 1984 election in which they lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Mr. Henry is many things. One thing he isn't is a cultural fatalist. This book is a full throat defense of western culture and an exploration of why it is so maligned in higher education and government. A surprising worthwhile read for anyone looking to escape relativist thought in the academy.

  • David
    2019-04-24 01:02

    "Talent, achievement, practice, and learning no longer command deference. Everybody is a star. Andy Warhol said everyone would have fifteen minutes of fame, and nonachievers by the millions have come to expect it as a birthright." -William Henry

  • Damien
    2019-05-11 21:49

    The kind of book I can only fantasize about writing--THE CAREER-ENDER

  • Bob Nichols
    2019-04-23 16:48

    Henry endorses elitism: Elites represent excellence; they are the smartest; they are economically well-off; and they are technologically and artistically superior. Egalitarianism, he says, threatens elitism. Egalitarians don’t just want an equal chance to compete for societal benefits and status. They want “equality of outcomes in almost every field of endeavor.” For them, it’s about “rights.” For Henry, life is competition. “The way of nature is combat and conquest, not nurturing communalism,” and some are better than others “because intelligence varies genetically and because intelligence by and large determines economic success. It is the nature of human society to be stratified,” he states. In any debate between “elitist toughness” and “egalitarian compassion,” Henry says “elitism ought to win out” because “it directs society’s resources where they have the most chance of stimulating growth and change and making a better life for everyone.” “The point of elitism is to see “that society as a whole wins – that is, gets richer, better educated, more productive, and healthier.” To get to this place, Henry argues that we need more “rugged individualism.” Those who aspire for more (primarily blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, feminists)* need to step it up, enter the arena, take responsibility for their lives and accept the results if they lose. “My kind of elitist,” he writes, “does not grade on a curve and is willing to flunk the whole class.” Henry’s position is a combination of Platonic elitism, Spencer’s social Darwinism, and “trickle down” theory. While standards of excellence exist for almost every field of endeavor, Henry’s focus is on the “cultured” and economic elite as the banner carriers for the elites. It’s not about the “self-celebration of the peasantry” with its “household clutter” (family pictures instead of art).But Henry’s real argument is about status, prestige, (deserved) economic privilege. He needs an upper social class and hierarchy. “If everyone is a chief,” he writes, “hardly anyone would be left to be a mere Indian.” College for the average person is a waste, he argues. It’s “middle class welfare.” We are “overeducating a populace." His “modest” proposal is to reduce “the number of high school graduates who go on to college from nearly sixty percent to a still generous thirty-three percent” and we should push more students into the community colleges, which should, he says, take back their proper name, “Junior Colleges.” Henry’s elite is the preserve of those “who ruthlessly seek out and encourage intelligence” and who believe that “competition is good for one’s character.” Intelligence serves higher ends or self-serving ends, yet Henry presumes the former and ignores the latter. Henry’s “character” is about those who succeed in competition but we know how this turns out. Yes, the Indians lost out to the whites but that, he writes, was because a “technologically superior culture defeated an inferior one.” Henry’s elite is also about “reason and science.” He presumes that reason is impartial, objective, and universally true, which leads to the position that only elites speak for the truth, as opposed to, say, “agrarian ignorance.” Henry needs to re-read Hume. Reason speaks for inner character, values and subjective experience, not Truth and the first step toward objectivity is to recognize this without presuming its possession.Henry dislikes those who want to be favored without working hard. Had he left his argument there, that’s understandable. It’s about fairness. But the flip side is that, unchecked, his elites take too much or take without giving. For those who are overpowered, abused, taken advantage of, or systemically put into positions where they cannot compete freely or fully, this too is about fairness.**Darwinian theory is not just about competition. It’s also, fundamentally, about promoting social attachments that create group solidarity. Everyone needs a valued place. Group members respect, value and take care of each other. This is what Henry destroys. Why this argument to push for hierarchical stratification? We know who is good and not good. Why the need to put a stamp on it? The ethic needs to be that if you’re good, you don’t display it or demand that everyone acknowledge it. Modesty, not stardom, is virtue. As has been said about some Indian cultures, the best hunter eats last.*Henry doesn’t hold back. He references “Crippo liberation” to refer to efforts on behalf of the handicapped. Feminist studies are, as told to him, “clit lit”. If the handicapped are “differentially abled,” he wonders why the dim-witted are not “differentially smart.” A black hairstyle is a “homeboy hairstyle.” Native Americans are, really, “Siberian American.” In poking at the political correctness of multi-culturalism and feminism, Henry sticks up for the “white male of European descent” that, interestingly, aligns him with those who are regarded as anti-elitist. On this point, he writes that he is “also painfully conscious that taking the postures I do may condemn me to accommodating some pretty strange bedfellows - racist, male supremacists, patriotic zealots, reactionaries, religious exotics, and assorted other creeps.”**Philosophically, Henry wrongly contrasts elitism with egalitarianism. Elitism is too open-ended, too unbounded, as opposed to egalitarianism, which is the point of balance between the interests of one and the other.

  • Martin Michalek
    2019-05-01 21:44

    William A. Henry III is so naïf that he approaches the shores of stupidity.From the beginning, it should be abundantly clear that this fist-shaking antiquarian is blinded by his own agenda; in fact, his rage gives him such severe tunnel vision that his rants on “elitism” essentially become philippics against minorities and women.E.g.: While discussing affirmative action, Henry III says his “black professionals…continue to defend affirmative action—‘Without it, we wouldn’t be here at all,’ say a colleague of mine at Time and another close friend at The New York Times—but they all suspect it stigmatizes their accomplishments.”In other words: black people in the workplace are glad, Henry III argues, for affirmative action, but it is still negative because it stigmatizes their accomplishments. Ergo, one presumes, we should stop Affirmative Action to end the stigmatization.Problematically, though, Henry III begins more xenophobic blithering on page 9—not even three full pages later—as he suggests that Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize in 1992 was because Europe was apologizing on the five hundredth anniversary of “Columbus’ epic voyage.”“Both [Walcott and Rigoberta Menchú] are worthy enough, but the reasons they were chosen are not,” Henry III concludes.So, though on page 6 he argues that Affirmative Action is pejorative because it stigmatizes the accomplishments of minorities, on page 9 he stigmatizes the accomplishments of minorities. One wonders if Henry III—twat that he is—read Walcott’s 1992 poem, "Omeros." Had he, it might occur to him that the book is the greatest epic poem in English since Milton’s Paradise Lost. He might realize that Walcott wrote in terza rima—a style almost completely abandoned in the 19th and 20th centuries. He might realize that the book confronts the difficult entanglement of Walcott’s Caribbean nationalism with his Europhilia. Yes, Henry III is terribly blinded by his prejudices. So much so that he forgets his points three pages later. To be fair, he was in the throes of death when he wrote. His mind might have been going.As one might expect, the book follows this trajectory until it becomes nearly unreadable. In one chapter, Henry III rails against children for being selfish and stupid, which he says is the fault of the children—not teachers. A few pages later, he rails against textbooks for their immense historical inaccuracies. Yet again, he has failed to remember which side of the fence he sits on. Why? Possibly because he just wants to be angry about everything, I would posit.Perhaps most upsetting, though, is the criteria with which Henry III measures a great society. Egypt is great, he reasons, because its culture survived. Mesoamerican cultures did not. Ipso facto, Egypt was a great society and the Aztecs were not. But Egypt, by and large, did not survive. Its culture and language were lost to time, but later civilizations picked the pieces up and tried to reassemble them. Quite similarly, the Aztecs were destroyed by a stronger military power (another criterion for greatness, according to Henry III) and their cultures were lost. Ipso facto, Aztecs are inferior culturally. But now that modern North Americans are picking up the pieces and reassembling them, Henry III sees this as pandering to an inferior culture. One wonders if he would have thought that translating the Rosetta Stone was pandering to an inferior culture in Ancient Egypt.Henry III is one of the least intelligent men I’ve ever read. It’s disappointing that a book singing the praises of elitism proved to be such dreck. There’s certainly a place for elitism. I love snobbery. I’m a Classicist at St Andrews. But Henry III is unquestionably jingoistic (military conquer and colonialism, he argues, make Europe superior to all other nations—entirely ignoring that China, Persia, and the African kingdom of Mali were also colonial conquerors). Henry III is sexist. (He suspects that girls get better grades because they are better-behaved and thus more likely to win the favor of teachers.) He is racist. (For proof, read any page of the book. Scarcely a paragraph goes by that doesn’t include a non sequitur about how minorities are dumbing down society.) What a horrendous piece of shit. Read it if you are voting for Trump, I suppose.

  • Graeme Roberts
    2019-04-22 23:42

    Bill Henry, as I hope he would allow me to call him, was a great and wide-ranging thinker, clearly capable of more than the journalism and cultural criticism that won him two Pulitzer Prizes, as admirable as that was. He defends elitism not as snobbery and empty arrogance, but as the truthful alternative to the foolish, and indeed tragic, egalitarianism that has so beset American life since the 1960's. Henry was entirely dedicated to the truth, and courageous in defending it. Once Americans followed academics of the humanities and social sciences in denying differences in people and cultures and pretending that all are equally worthy, lying became an accepted part of our culture, and virtuousness became quaint and old-fashioned.It's ironic that the supporters of Donald Trump, a barefaced liar and supremely selfish narcissist, are seeking leadership away from the lies and knowing winks of the liberal, educated elite who care little for their way of life and their values. And the country rolls inexorably toward bankruptcy brought on by foolish overspending on education that is not needed, social security that is not sustainable, and increased dependence on government largesse by people who must instead strive for their own dignity.Henry could see this trajectory very clearly more than twenty years ago, and he wrote about it with great clarity and bravery, surely expecting that venomous attacks would come from all sides. Bill Henry was a big man by any measure—intellect, generosity, courage and more—but also physically. He died of a heart attack at the age of 43, just before this book was published, and we lost a real hero, a warrior on the most demanding battlefield.An important book, superbly written, and highly readable.

  • Lisa Pletz
    2019-05-16 18:58

    This author poses a very interesting idea: equality of opportunity does not equate to equality of outcomes. His arguments are cogent, and may go a long way toward explaining the issues facing American society today. You may not agree with him, but you sure will think long and hard about what he has to say.

  • Chrysostom
    2019-05-23 18:52

    ****1/3

  • E
    2019-04-23 21:48

    What is the basic premise of this book? Allow me to quote from page 14: "Some people are better than others--smarter, harder working, more learned, more productive, harder to replace. Some ideas are better than others, some values more enduring, some works of art more universal. Some cultures, though we dare not say it, are more accomplished than others and therefore more worthy of study. Every corner of the human race may have something to contribute. That does not mean that all contributions are equal." He goes on later on the same page with one of my favorite quotes: "It is not necessarily a conspiracy of silence that the historical record is so thin in detailing women painters and writers of the early Renaissance or black nuclear physicists and Hispanic political leaders of the early twentieth century. Sometimes the record is thin because the accomplishments were too."So, is Henry a racist. No, not even close. "To me, the real racism," he writes, "lies in the condescending assumption that we must equate all cultures to assuage African Americans, or any other minorities, instead of challenging them to compete with, and equal, the best in the culture where they live now."This is music to my ears as one who suffered the cesspool of politically correct public education (thank God for books at home to read!). Amazingly, this book was written 20 years ago, but is as applicable now as ever. Even more amazingly, Henry was a proud liberal (he died as the book went to press), a "card-carrying member of the ACLU," as his bio blurb puts it. Could he even survive today in that party? If Jackson and Jefferson could not, I don't see how Henry could (or Cleveland or Kennedy or we could go on and on).Henry's book shows how the egalitarian myth has ruinous consequences in primary/secondary education, affirmative action, the feminist movement (he proffers great arguments against mandatory paid maternity leave, by the way), higher education, and the culture at large (in other words, he hate Karaoke and loves Jeopardy!--I'd say he got it right).This book will make you think. It will make you humble. It will make you disgusted. It will make you grateful.new word:repechage: a heat of a competition, esp in rowing or fencing, in which eliminated contestants have another chance to qualify for the next round or the final (kind of like the Wild Card in MLB--but don't get me started)

  • Adam
    2019-05-19 22:47

    Like hernia surgery for a toothache.

  • Imad Ahmed
    2019-04-25 16:58

    Post-Brexit, I picked this book from a friend’s shelf in the hope that it would offer a therapeutic read about the tyranny of the stupid. How sorely I was disappointed.No evidence of research behind the glaringly wrong, bigoted and self-entitled sweeping statements that the author makes. A piss poor effort in showcasing elitism for a book ostensibly defending it. William Henry III must have mentioned ‘my alma mater Yale’ at least 20 times throughout this book, perhaps to emphasize to readers what his writing could not: that he was an elite thinker. It is clearly not the merit of his arguments that got this book published, but his past achievements of two Pulitzers. If prizes could be revoked for compromising the body of work written over a lifetime, then ‘Henry III’ would have had none after this.He belittles the efforts of American minorities to claim several identities through hyphenation and refuses to stop calling Native Americans ‘Indians’ because they were likely descended from Siberians, nevermind that they were never correctly called ‘Indians’ in the first place – that the name was not of their choosing and that it is idiotic to insist on calling them that because it confuses them with people from South Asia.He belittles the teaching of Yoruba because of its little economic utility, but two pages later eulogises the teaching of dead European languages, blind to his blatant double-standard and prejudice. He attributes female genital mutilation in African societies to Islam, nevermind that Islam only provides for male circumcision. He doesn’t bother to pull up statistics about the net contribution of immigrants to society, but is rather content to reach inductive conclusions. If you see this book on a friend’s shelf, do your friend a favour and place it where it belongs – in the garbage bin.

  • JP
    2019-05-20 23:54

    I agree with this rational but crotchety elitist. He's right without being "right" and opinionated without being only opinionated. Much of what he says is said in other works (Objectivist, Libertarian, or economics), but he makes the point well that all of this is necessary because we fail to admit that some people are going to be more able or more successful than others. Also worth noting are his 7 signs of a superior culture (quoting each item verbatim): preserves the liberty of its citizens; provides a comfortable life, relatively free from want, for the plupart of its citizens; promotes modern science, medicine, and hygiene; produces permanent artifacts that express aesthetic and humanistic principles appreciated by other cultures; provides widespread, rigorous general education and ensures an essentially meritocratic admission system; expands, by trade or cultural imperialism or conquest or all of the above, and will find its tenets embraced by the erstwhile captives even when the era of expansion is over; organizes itself hierarchically, tends toward central authority, and overcomes tribal and regional divisions, all without suppressing the individual opportunity for self-expression and advancement.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-05 21:57

    Elitism is a misnomer for this book; it would be more accurately titled "In Defense of Meritocracy," however, that may actually be unfair. Henry denies the fact that there are some endowed with certain gifts (namely wealth) and therefore given a head start. He maintains that today opportunity IS distributed equally among the entire population and that any attempt to defy that means you enjoy cheating. There is some truth in Henry's assertion about character degradation in today's society, but that doesn't mean that change is ultimately evil. Henry is certainly a man of conviction, but a dry and prosaic writer. I'm sure it took years to develop these opinions (I'm sure William A Henry I and II were formative in his upbringing), but his presentation and delivery in this book were underwhelming and at times, a bit pitiable. Most of the book was spent with this man pining away for yesteryear, for better behaved individuals and cultures, and more square personalities because they are neat and predictable. I quite enjoy our landscape of chaos, and found Henry's book mentally taxing due to its lack of flexibility. A shame. I had really looked forward to having this on my shelf...

  • John Grange
    2019-05-22 23:09

    This is a quick and edifying read if you're looking for something somewhat philosophical. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was how prescient Mr. Henry was in his analysis of the trajectory of American culture. Were he alive today he'd be thoroughly upset with the state of affairs in the US, but he'd also have to pat himself on the back for he was correct! He definitely has that "get off my lawn" sensibility of an old man who time had passed but his critique of American culture and the decline of individualism and self reliance was spot on. Mr Henry argues through concise prose and rational thought process that the intellectual bankruptsy of egalitarianism and identity politics which dominate culture (in early 90s and more so today) are drivers of American decline. I find the majority of his points provocative but salient and spot on - at other points in the book I find him to be somewhat of a luddite who's blind to innovation. This book is quick and to the point and definitely worth a read.

  • Kyle Yeversky
    2019-05-18 17:48

    Definitely food for thought, even (especially?) 18 years after its publication. I think a lot of Henry's points are valid, though I admit he sometimes takes a harder line than I would prefer. There's a lot to be said for meritocracy as he views it, but he leaves lots of unanswered questions about what happens to those who can't make the grade in an entirely merit-based system. Still, I was able to identify with his frustrations and can see the appeal in a political and educational system where "elitist" is not a dirty word.That said, I just can't agree with him about art. Some works of art are inherently more complicated or technologically advanced than others, but that alone doesn't make them superior. Art is too inherently subjective - both from the perspective of the artist and that of the viewer/reader/listener - to be ranked and quantified in such a way. It may not be a very rational reason to knock this book, but as Henry spends much of the text disregarding or scorning the ethos of societies, it seems somehow fitting.

  • Mark
    2019-05-05 20:11

    Readability 6. Rating 6. Henry is writing primarily about his concern for how egalitarianism has come to dominate politically correct thinking, and how this leads to a variety of problems, from the excessive attention being paid to the rampant special pleading of self-styled (and self-serving) victim groups to the general “dumbing-down” of America. While I do not agree with all of his stances, particularly with regard to policy, I agree wholeheartedly with his assertion that lauding individual achievement and expecting individual responsibility are becoming foreign concepts to too many Americans. I also agree vehemently that equal opportunity does not imply equal outcomes. The elitism he refers to is an unavoidable outcome of human differences. Denying this reality is leading to foolhardy and even dangerous decisions both by us as individuals and as a country. To a degree, I think Henry is alarmist, but the sad possibility is that he may not be.

  • Tony
    2019-04-30 23:56

    Henry is an old-school (read: pre-1990's grievance-mongering) liberal who doesn't like how, in our rush to make everyone feel good about himself, we have thrown standards of excellence out the door. A thoroughgoing meritocrat, Henry despises the notion of privilege attached to any characteristic other than "learning and achivement."It's a fairly straightforward argument, and this book could easily have been a pamphlet, crammed as it is with Rush Limbaughesque stories of politically correct outrages. One gets the feel it was cobbled together at the height of the Limbaugh craze, and as a result Henry's wonderful snatches of elucidation are wrapped up in radio-talk like a pig in a blanket. But then again, some people like pigs in blankets. I'd just as soon have the cocktail weenie and move on to the next appetizer.

  • Elisian
    2019-04-29 18:51

    Read the first half; skimmed the end. I couldn't make it through this book otherwise. It's important to know that these arguments exist, I'm sure, even and especially for those of us who are not Henry - who are not white, for example - it's helpful to understand the resentment against what might to us seem like reasonable requests for thoughtfulness, decorum, and humanity.Henry's privileged worldview is transparent throughout. He's a man of his time, and of his upbringing; expect no more than that from him, and this book is worthwhile. Expect coherent, rational positions, and you will be disappointed.Restraining disbelief and anger is exhausting, and I'm burned out. I'll leave it at that.

  • Jonathan
    2019-05-14 17:54

    good book about an important topic. but it's very blunt in its analysis so be warned a head of time or it may piss you off. henry, generally, makes a convincing argument about the battle between egalitarian and meritocratic influences in the american system. specifically, he argues that the egalitarian side has won far more than is warranted and that we (as a society/polity) abandon the meritocratic influence at our own peril.yet some of his examples are off base and detract from the larger argument of the book. it basically needed another round of editing, but is otherwise a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the state of american democracy and civic engagement.

  • Donna
    2019-05-19 19:51

    The author argues for elitism rather than egalitarianism.Good thing: The idea that most stuck with me was that fairness in opportunity does not equal fairness in outcome - not everyone will do equally well at everything.Bad thing: There were definitely times when I cringed and went - um, NO!This book made me agree at parts, disagree at parts, and succeeded in making me think and dig down to why I had a (sometimes) unconscious opinion. If the author wrote another book that covered the last twenty years since this was published, I would read it.

  • Katrin
    2019-04-28 22:03

    I read this book some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We often say that all people, ideas,and cultures have equal worth. The author states unyieldingly that some ideas and attainments are better than others - for instance, that the study of mechanical engineering might be harder and more worthwhile to society than the study of aromatherapy (my examples,not his!).Katrin

  • Aaron Gray
    2019-05-23 20:50

    I read this book just after college and it surprised me. I don't own the book anymore but I just ordered it so I can read it again. I have a hunch that the book will resonate even more the second time around given the growing anti-intellectualism of both the American left and the American right.

  • Blake
    2019-05-11 21:47

    It is an excellent reflection on the social and political climate of America, and acts as a call back to reason and rationality. William A. Henry promotes the equality of opportunity over the equality of outcomes, stressing that they are worlds apart in definition. He takes a few of his points to the extreme, however the overall content and pros makes up for these.

  • John
    2019-04-29 22:03

    Henry occasionally conflates pedigree with achievement and thus finds himself defending pretension. That said, the book provides invaluable insights into the hierarchies intrinsic to human nature and why they are actually desirable.

  • Rohan
    2019-05-21 16:54

    Was hoping for a philosophical argument which refuted the supposed first principle that equality is of paramount importance, but nevertheless, it was a well written collection of anecdotes that should provoke many of those who believe in the principles of meritocracy and fairness.

  • Jafar
    2019-04-24 20:51

    Recommended to all elitists.

  • Robert
    2019-04-27 23:08

    An excellent case for rewarding competency, not special interests.My mother suggested I read this book. I purchased it and got right down to it.