Assaulting the American Mind

Assaulting the American Mind

No one seriously interested in higher education can afford to read The Closing of the American Mind. Or so the late Dwight Macdonald might have put it. He practically did. Substitute “international relations” for “higher education” and you have the beginning of a review Macdonald wrote in the early 1940s. His target was a great book—if not yet a Great Book—entitled How to Win the War and the Peace, tossed off by Mortimer J. Adler.

In his squib, most of which I memorized, Macdonald remarked, “Mr. Adler once wrote a book called How to Read a Book. He should now read a book called How to Write a Book.” So should Allan Bloom. Then again, mastery of the craft might be his ruination. Not knowing how to write a book, Bloom has produced one that is phenomenally successful. That’s the ticket. Keep not knowing and you’ll go far, maybe as far as Adler, who even in 1988 is breathing down Bloom’s neck with Aristotle for Everybody.


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