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Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education [Kindle Edition]

Roger Kimball
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Since Tenured Radicals first appeared in 1990, it has achieved a stature as the leading critique of the ways in which the humanities are now taught and studied at American universities. Trenchant and witty, it lays bare the sham of what now passes for serious academic pursuit in too many circles. In this new edition, completely reset, Roger Kimball has brought the text up to date and has added a new Introduction. Those who have never read Tenured Radicals are in for a treat; others may find a second reading worth their while. “Mr. Kimball names his enemies precisely…. This book will breed fistfights.”—Roger Rosenblatt, New York Times Book Review. “All persons serious about education should see it.”—Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind. “Tenured Radicals is a withering critique.”—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World. “A bravado performance of critical journalism…a vivid, up-to-the-minute account, alternately amusing and dismaying, of the takeover of the academy by ideology.”—Robert Alter, Newsday. “A stinging account…. The commonsense approach of Tenured Radicals provokes constant reflections and occasional laughter at the squirming victims.”—Roger Shattuck, author of The Banquet Years.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Citing examples of specialized constituencies using unconventional approaches to higher education, this controversial study argues that "yesterday's radical is today's tenured professor or academic dean." "To the debate awakened by Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and E. D. Hirsch's Cultural Literacy , this sobering assessment is a pointed contribution," PW said.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A stinging account...provokes constant reflection and occasional laughter. (Roger Shattuck, author of The Banquet Years )

A bravado performance of critical journalism...vivid, amusing, dismaying. (Robert Alter Newsday )

All persons serious about education should see it. (Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind )

A withering critique. (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post Book World )

Mr. Kimball names his enemies precisely...this book will breed fistfights. (The New York Times )

Product Details

  • File Size: 2848 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; 3 edition (September 18, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002QB136Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,504 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meaning Has No Meaning August 12, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
America's colleges and universities have always had their fair share of leftist radicals but as astounding as it may seem today, until the early 1960s the majority of college teachers tended toward the right or at the least managed to avoid the radicalism so thoroughly entrenched today. In TENURED RADICALS, Roger Kimball, himself a conservative critic of the arts, analyzes how and why this transformation has taken place. The villain he notes is that the very faculty who are charged with the education of our young have willingly and eagerly abandoned the search for truth by denying the very existence of absolutes like "truth" "justice" and "universality." Politics, in his opinion, has trumped an impartial quest for a firm and unwavering underpinning for Western culture.

This attack began, oddly enough, in Plato's day as Plato had the good sense to recognize the seductive appeal of rhetoric and could reject it in favor of elevating the reality behind that rhetoric over the rhetoric itself. Kimball notes that over the next two millenia most philosophers have succeeded in avoiding this pitfall--at least until this century when Jacques Derrida began to unravel the meaning of meaning by imputing to it a foundation of relativism that says in essence that human beings can never "know" anything for certain because of unvoidable biases, prejudices, and ideologies. Kimball takes an interesting tack by structuring much of his book in the form of academic conferences in which he attends and by using his trusty tape recorder captures the very words and intonations of speakers who rail against the very jobs that pay them such lofty paychecks. Kimball is a very witty and funny writer. As these academic deans speak their deconstructionist jargon, Kimball will then translate into plain English.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Untenured Genius. June 15, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I remember asking Jay Nordlinger a couple of years ago why Roger Kimball didn't get swept up by a university due to his obvious brilliance, and Jay told me that he would gain no possible advantage from working at one (even if they would hire him) which is probably true as his brand of scholarship is seldom found in the academy today. Today I reread the absolutely stunning and marvelous Tenured Radicals and was remiss not to have reviewed it back in 2002. It remains a riveting and educational narrative even though over 15 years have passed since it was first published. The open-minded should be prepared though because this is a very ugly tale. Mr. Kimball goes around to various university speaking events and reports back to us not only about what has been said but also about the climate around the symposiums.

Unfortunately, the reason that this book is not as well-remembered and quoted as it should be is due to its being a complete underestimation of the political corruption endemic to our universities today. In other words, what he described is rather mild as 1990 was a dream for libertarians as opposed to the horror show that we would find on campus in 2007. David Horowitz estimated that 10% of the professorate was left-wing and activist but that too is probably an underestimate. I pity students graduating from high school today as the 80 grand they'll pay for a college education isn't worth ten bucks due to the amount in which truth will be replaced with propaganda.

At any rate, what's best about Tenured Radicals is Kimball's acerbic and rightly condescending wit. There are so many great asides here the tone will keep you giggling throughout.
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106 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the Academy Dosen't Want You to Hear November 28, 2000
Roger Kimball's work is a refreshing look at the sad state of the Humanities today. Is the book rather one-sided in its views on the 'culture wars'? Yes, but then again one will not get much vigorous debate on the subject in most Humanities departments today-and this is exactly Mr. Kimball's point. Even putting aside the complete contempt for truth these scholars show, if this neglect and subversion of Humanities departments were simply an academic affair, perhaps Mr. Kimball would sound histrionic, but he clearly identifies the real victims-the students. Indeed, the book comes off at points almost conspiratorial, as Mr. Kimball implies that the failed radical fight these scholars fought while students is now being played out for the hearts and minds of contemporary students. Sadly, that argument is not without some merit. The adolescent postures of these scholars that are lauded as arguments by the so-called 'cultural Left' make amusing, if at times frustrating reading for those accustomed to the naive belief that the universities existed for higher learning in pursuit of such feeble contemporary notions such as truth. Mr. Kimball lances the proponents with their own words and ideas, not their backgrounds or politics, something his opponents should take note of.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for tuition-paying parents... October 27, 1998
By A Customer
When I read the first edition some years ago, when I was in college myself, I wanted to stand up and cheer. This book does an excellent job of exposing how the study of humanities has ceased to be an academic discipline, and more of an exercise in political posturing in Lit. and humanities departments across the nation. This book is also a wickedly funny skewering of all those in higher ed. who perceive their mission to be the indoctrination, rather than education, of today's college students. I see (sadly) that in the eight years since the publication of the 1'st edition, things have only gotten worse....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars If I cared more, I would buy Mr. Kimball a book on fallacies.
I wish I could give it zero stars. It is biased and one sided. The rhetorical devises are so blatant they are glaring. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amity
4.0 out of 5 stars Is education possible without standards?
This third edition was published in 2008. The first edition dates back to 1990. (About seventy pages of the third edition have been added to the text of the first edition. Read more
Published 8 months ago by R. M. Peterson
4.0 out of 5 stars Whistle Blowing in Academe
Roger Kimball was one of the first to blow the whistle on the absurdities of the modern academia where classic humanities programs, which once began with a reverent study of the... Read more
Published on November 9, 2012 by ilprofessore
5.0 out of 5 stars Academia Wasteland
Truly, if the title of this review is anything, it is an understatement at how deplorable our school systems have become. I speak from experience. Read more
Published on March 10, 2011 by Veritas Syndrome
5.0 out of 5 stars No laughing matter but you can't resist ...
In the introduction to the 3rd edition of this classic analysis, Kimball notes that at the conclusion of the 1990s all the trends he identified in the first edition at the start of... Read more
Published on January 27, 2010 by Peter Uys
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance Personified
Customer Video Review
Length: 7:25 Mins
Published on January 15, 2009 by Bernard Chapin
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and weep
Our institutions of higher learning are failing our kids and our country. Tenured Radicals explains why, in excruciating detail. Read more
Published on December 26, 2008 by P. Christofferson
5.0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing the Deconstructionists
Published in 1990 and still quite a good read, this book is your guide to what happened to American higher education in the later decades of the 20th century. Read more
Published on October 9, 2007 by Bruce Deitrick Price
5.0 out of 5 stars Breeding Ground
Kimball exposes Marxist profs for their secure, big paying, cushy jobs within Capitalism. Tenured guerillas? Nay! Read more
Published on January 12, 2006 by Walter Peretiatko
2.0 out of 5 stars a problematic argument
As an academic since 1969, I can attest that it has been absolutely against federal law to inquire into a job applicant's politics or religion, a law that has been scrupulously... Read more
Published on August 3, 2005 by another reader
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