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America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats) Hardcover – June 26, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594036063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594036064
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, regular contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and former board member of the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, and his essays are widely anthologized. Among his many books are Mirror Worlds (“one of the most influential books in computer science”: Technology Review), the novel 1939: The Lost World of the Fair (“Original and arresting”: Washington Post Book World), the memoir Drawing Life (a New York Times “notable book of the year”), and most recently Americanism (2006) and Judaism: A Way of Being (2009).

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Customer Reviews

If you read this you will understand what is happing and why.
I expect that University education will follow the same path at some point.
Graham H. Seibert
The book is well-written and entertaining, but very important.
Robert A. Hall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book that is easily praised and easily damned. It is not served well by the flammable title, subtitle and jacket design, which make the book appear to be a screed by a conservative journalist or pundit. There are also issues concerning what I would call `nonfiction genre'. The book sketches a historical argument but ends with a peroration that is a call to arms. The author is very serious about both, but the two jostle here. We need the historical argument; we also need a call to arms, but we don't usually expect both between the covers of the same book.

The argument goes something like this: American society in general and America's universities in particular were led before the war by WASPs. Their orientation was more social than intellectual. They celebrated patriotism and duty. Their training grounds--the universities--prepared people for leadership that included, e.g., significant participation in the OSS and, later, the CIA. Ivy league men were routinely members of the officer class in the military, fighting side by side with blue-collar enlisted men. One way of thinking of this (not the author's words) is that the nation was more English, with firmer class lines, a greater sense of noblesse oblige, a higher regard for tradition and a culture that, to put it plainly, was far less crude than today's. That does not mean that it was perfect. Far from it, but it enjoyed certain advantages that are now largely lost.

Then, a change occurred and the change was in the colleges and universities. They became more intellectual and less social. They became more left-leaning than right-leaning. They spawned a society of post-religious, global intellectuals, one driven by left/liberal ideology.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By DDDDDDD on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fellow readers

The book is a polemic, it's a thumping on the table, not an analytical work like Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" However, there are tons of empirical data that support his assertions (I will be happy to provide such data upon request, or just for one sample in the social psychology realms, google "Admitting to Bias inside higher ed"). Prof. Gelernter's past achievements (LINDA system, Worldbeam) should give some pause, google "worldbeam gelernter java" and read what he has seen in the past long before anyone 20 years ago. He was also one of the Unabomber victims.

As far as the content is concerned: I spend 16 years in these types of elite universities both as a student and CS faculty member. I left academica because I could not stand it anymore. By and large, his observations are true: About PORGI and airhead acolytes being in charge at both at the faculty and Dean level; the disdain for the principles and sovereignty of the United States and the fervent wish to subsume its institutions and laws to foreign dicta and mores; glib ingratitude towards and hatred of the US military and ROTC students; equating US patriotism with jingoism, a position borne not out of weighted argument but by apodictic ordre du mufti; "fly-over country" and anti-Texan snobbery; the ahistorical, acausal and unquestioned anti-American, anti-Western narratives undisturbed by facts, logic and argumentation that are not taught, but pounded into students; the fawning over the post-American PORGI know-nothing president in the mainstream press and among the lumpen-intelligentsia in academia. If this sounds like it cannot be true, read Kimball's "Tenured Radicals" about the state of affairs in the 80s and 90s, read for a couple of months the Chronicles of Higher Education.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Gelernter is a Renaissance man, a person who has distinguished himself as a computer scientist, artist, and philosopher, and now as a social commentator. This book attempts, similar to Charles Murray's "Coming Apart," to assess the malaise that has affected America for the past few decades. Like Murray, he has a few simple prescriptions to fix the problem. That's the weakest part of the book. It will be fixed, but not by conscious action.

Gelernter is a master of the image, simile and metaphor. His writing is a pleasure to read. He is widely read, and his sources are different than mine. His ideas tie to those of Robert Trivers "The Folly of Fools," Michael Shermer "The Believing Brain," and a lot of what Stephen Pinker writes.

You can read the thesis of the book in other reviews. Fundamentally, he contends that the leftist intellectuals took over academia sometime after World War II. Having seized control of the educational establishment, they indoctrinated generations of children to the point that they are now knee-jerk, instinctive leftists. He calls them PORGIs, post religious globalist intellectuals. As many other writers have done before him, he notes that however intelligent they may be, they do not think for themselves, simply regurgitating the received wisdom which they have been fed since they were in grammar school. The lesson is anti-religion, anti-American, against patriotism, and for diversity. Whatever that means, and provided the diversity embraces only the right people.

His solution is to take education out of the hands of the educational establishment. He proposes delivering education over the Internet. I am working on a book of my own about how I am going to school my 10-month-old child when the time comes.
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