Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today's Academy, The History of Marijuana, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

This week, The New York Times has reviews of two books critiquing the academy.  Hanna Rosin reviews Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad (Thomas Dunne).  The title is a riff on William Buckley, Jr.’s God and Man at Yale.  There’s been buzz about the book elsewhere this week.  See, for example, The Chronicle of Higher Education (here) and at Inside Higher Ed (here).   Rosin writes:
Harden’s...examples of an institution run amok (an acting class run by a yoga fascist, a Spanish language class in which the professor shows a film with a lesbian sex scene) are revealing but not revealing enough to make one feel that an obsession with sex has turned Yale into a “great institution in decline — an institution of tremendous power and influence that is no longer aware of why it exists or for what purpose,” as Harden claims.
Read the full review here.

The other is Andrew Delbanco's review of The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind (Broadside Books) by Bruce Bawer.  Bawer "concludes that the contemporary American academy is a place of hypocrisy and fear, where tenured professors proclaim empty solidarity with exploited workers, and Take Back the Night rallies promote the idea that 'male students metamorphose, werewolf-life, into potential rapists' every night."  According to Delbanco "[t]his deliberately intemperate book is a useful reminder that liberal education always faces threats from one kind of intolerance or another."  Read on here.     

In TNR: The Book: a review of Sonia Faleiro's Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars (Black Cat); Tim Fernholz reviews Martin A. Lee's Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana- Medical, Recreational and Scientific (Scribner); Yelena Akhtiorskaya reviews Alexandra Popoff's The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants (Pegasus) 

The Nation has a review of Tim Weiner’s Enemies: A Historyof the FBI (Random House), and at the Wall Street Journal, you'll find a review of two books on black popular culture: Elijah Wald's The Dozens: A History of Rap's Mama (Oxford) and Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen's Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip Hop (Norton). 

Happy reading!