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What Really Happened to the Class of '93: Start-ups, Dropouts, and Other Navigations Through an Untidy Decade Hardcover – May 11, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; First Edition (reviewers material laid in) edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914796
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,607,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Colin, a former writer and editor for Salon.com, believes that his high school class represents the important societal events that have occurred between 1993 and today. His classmates were unified by a feeling of invincibility. Well before a shadow of terrorism and economic gloom took hold of the country, these students had no limits on their future and could set out to accomplish virtually anything. That's why Colin chose to profile 20 of his classmates from Virginia's Jefferson High School. The public school, located just outside of Washington, D.C, was a specialized school and attracted some of the most gifted students in the area. The author introduces readers to a diverse group of people. There is Karen, the rebellious but ambitious student who abruptly walks out of her LSAT exam and becomes an inner-city teacher; Ryan, who ends up abandoning his dream of being a doctor and practices Buddhism; Lesley, who has faced serious bouts with depression since graduation. Colin allows his classmates to offer observations on one another, and after each profile, he offers more general commentary on his life and that of his classmates. Colin is a skilled writer and makes these profiles of unknown people surprisingly interesting. Unfortunately, Colin's interpretation of his reunion and his friends isn't strong enough to make this compelling social history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Colin writes of the lives of 16 of his classmates from the Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology in Fairfax County, VA, an affluent suburb of Washington, DC. They graduated into an economic bubble, the dot.com expansion, and a seemingly peaceful world where "anything was possible." Their 10th reunion occurred after the bubble burst, the dot.coms failed, and the events of 9/11. Readers meet the homecoming queen who is now a Fair Trade activist, the transgendered Matthew/Anne, and the dedicated pre-law student who now teaches in an inner-city school. One member seemingly on the way to astounding success hung himself; another, suspended for bringing a (broken) pellet gun to school, is a weapons tester for the government; and the unwed mother pregnant in her junior year tells of raising her loving and well-adjusted son. Each profile is preceded by comments from other classmates, and Colin's writing skills make for compelling stories and vivid portraits. While the author sometimes stretches for cosmic meaning, and some of the situations are unique, the intimate glimpses into the lives of these young people will resonate with teens. They will recognize themselves, their friends, and even their enemies, and will benefit from the perspective of a decade of further experience.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Chris Colin is the author most recently of What to Talk About, as well as What Really Happened to the Class of '93 and Blindsight, named one of Amazon's Best Books of 2011.

He's written about chimp filmmakers, ethnic cleansing, George Bush's pool boy, blind visual artists, solitary confinement, the Yelpification of the universe and more for the NewYorker.com, the New York Times Magazine, the Atavist, Outside, Wired, Smithsonian, Mother Jones, McSweeney's and Afar, where he's a contributing writer. He teaches writing at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and was an early editor at Salon. www.chriscolin.com.

Customer Reviews

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Yet, I was swept in immediately by the author's charming and breezy writing style.
Jane Tanner
I'm glad I only borrowed this book from the library (its pages were grossly covered in chicken wing hot sauce, at least that's what I hope that was) and didn't buy it.
D. Howard
Had the author only written about a few people more in depth, I think the book would have been a much more interesting read.
J. Carvalho

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the subjects in this book.
I was very sceptical of how Chris Colin would portray me and my classmates in this book - would he write it as a "tell all" dredging up old dirt from over a decade ago? Would Chris make each of us caricatures to better fit into our class label? Or would he distort our comments to him from the numerous interviews?
Chris did none of the above; in fact, he was more accurate and honest than I think any of us thought possible, particularly given that he didn't know many of us that well in high school or in the years since. Without exhuming any skeletons - except for his own - Chris provides an accurate sketch of who we were and an even better portrait of who we have become in the years since high school graduation.
This book is not about what happened to students from one of the nation's leading high schools and how that made each of us a success. No. It is about 16 individuals who took the experiences they had in high school and either embraced them or forsake them as each of us moved into adulthood.
While "What Really Happened to the Class of '93" is of interest to those who were a part of that class, or those who may know us, it really is a book for anyone in high school -- or anyone still trying to exorcize some of the demons from those formative four years -- who wants to know who your classmates are behind the labels they carry.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian McConnell on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am the first classmate featured in the book (although I am also the ONLY classmate not featured on the cover of the book...). When I read my chapter, I was angry at first. I felt I was portrayed kind of like Shrek (layers, donkey!) the Ogre. Especially when the "redneck weapons designer" was followed by a chapter on "Miss saves-the-world-from-corporate-oppression". But as I read through and eventually re-read the book, I began to see it differently. My ire was replaced by an understanding that all of us changed from what we were in highschool - to an extent. My place ahead of the "coffee bean commando" was a juxtaposition of two passionate individuals who were working to fight the good fight in their own particular (if very different) way. I am who I have become. It can be strange reading about yourself written by someone else.

Honestly, though - I think I would have found the personal stories told in this book to be intriguing even if I were not one of them. What a long, strange trip it's been...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I didn't go to the high school in this book, and I'm not a '93 graduate either (though close) and yet I read this book cover to cover, almost without stopping.
What kept me going, in part, were the stories of these 16 lives. I'd prepared myself for the usual high school archetypes -- the jock, the homecoming queen, the bully, etc. -- but in Colin's hands, those stereotypes give way to compelling, honest, and intimate portraits. I felt for these people; I couldn't wait to reach the end of the chapter to find out what had happened to them.
But beyond just stories, Colin has managed to paint a true, and -- to me, at least -- uncannily accurate description of how people age, how we change over time. I recognized aspects of myself (for better or for worse!) in many of these stories. It's also a portrait of a decade, but a kind of portrait I haven't seen before: Colin shows how the events of the last decade are reflected in the choices these 16 regular Americans make. Those looking for Big Theories should go elsewhere; this is a much more nuanced and personal take on this time in history than that.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Karen A. Taggart on June 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Hmmm.. where to start. I am one of the people featured in Chris's book and I couldn't disagree more with David Jacob's review (sorry David). While I admit I jumped around chapter to chapter, not reading the book in order, I did not think that Chris exploited us in any way or tried to find artificial themes to tie us all together. Nor did I see this as a book about a group of people who lost hope...
I love this book... and it takes a lot for me to say that because I usually hate what people write about me. Seriously. Journalists always get it wrong, make me sound totally different than I am, or quote me completely out of context. While I think Chris does simplify my views of and experiences with race, how could he not? It's only one chapter... :) And I don't think he was defensive on the issue... just a little nervous because he was trying to, and I believe succeeded in, being honest about an issue that was NOT discussed during our high school years.
Anyway, read this book. There are some really fascinating stories in here... especially ones that wouldn't normally be heard coming out of TJHSST.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I read the inside flap of this book, I knew right away that I would love this book, and I did. I basically ready it cover to cover, non-stop, one recent weekend. How did the Class of 93 of Thomas Jefferson HS in northern Virgina turn out, 10 years later? The writer, himself a TJ 93 grad, focuses on 16 people (out of a class of 404), with himself interwoven throughout the book. The writer's basic premise is that 1993-2003 represents the "real" 90s decade (starting with Clinton's presidency, and ending with the start of the war in Iraq, with the internet Boom and Bubble, Monica Lewinsky and of course 9/11 along the way).

The best part of the book is (not surprisingly) to see how people change over a period of 10 years. In fact, it would appear that may, if not most, of the '93 TJ grads turn out very different after 10 years than their HS graduation would have lead most to believe or expect. One of the best stories involves Karen Taggert (yes, the reviewer right below me), who ends up teaching inner-city schools in DC. Another compelling story is John Doyle, the rigid military-reared (with accompanying strong views) kid who goes to West Point and undergoes a major change after doing his 5 yr duty in the military. I equally disagree with David Jacobs' review that the inclusion of the chapter on Sean Bryant (who took his life in college) was disrespectful or exploitative.

If there is one common thread throughout the stories of these now 27-28 yr olds looking back at high school, it's that many of them don't really seem all that happy! "We were prepared to be successful but not to be happy" is a statement that comes back more than once. Wow, that worries me (having 2 kids in HS now).
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