on June 25, 2003
This seminal work of one of the most courageous conservative thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries laid the groundwork on which numerous other media voices built. He descrbes how it all started when he was an undergraduate at Yale University from 1946-1950. He writes from his conscious. Buckley is precise in describing how he felt traditional American values were being ignored, undermined, and distorted by academics. He makes his case by citing specific classes, instructors, and textbooks. In the revised edition he brings readers up to date on how critics and the public responded when the book originally came out. Buckley earned the right to be the quintessential role model for conservatives because of his courage and gift of clearly communicating his argument in a logical manner. There are no ad hominem fallacies here or in any of his writings. He confronts isses head on. He even discusses his motive for writing the book by saying it is tied to his love for his alma mater and the country in general. By that he means his desire is for constructive change. It is in pointing out the errors that he hopes to achieve the positive resolutions he seeks. Buckley has remained a voice worthy of an audience in the marketplace of ideas for decades. This is the book that launched him and it is worth reading at any point in time.
on May 22, 2011
Obviously a book about the state of college life and of Yale in particular which was written in the early fifties will take some lumps for its dated references to the specific personalities and issues of Yale life in 1950. His main theses are that collectivism, an older term which, as the author points out in an updated prologue, has morphed in "liberalism", is the dominant principle which guides the teaching of Economics, Philosophy and the social sciences, and secondly that, by any reasonable measure, agnosticism and atheisism are the prominent world views held by the majority of faculty and are in full evidence even in the Department of Religion. Not only do you sense his personal frustrations (being a Catholic and an advocate of small government), but there is a note of dismay at the apparent hypocrisy of Yale with respect to its alumni. The latter were encourage to shore up the finances of the college with their generous giving but were not to be given much say in the philosophical direction of the school, even though Yale paid lip service to the importance of the alumni in preserving its integrity and traditions. In fact, as Buckley points out, if the largely Christian and Jewish business men who made up the alumni knew that the Yale faculty was in large part atheistic (and sometimes highly scornful of Christianity)and believed that big government (specifically Keynseyism) was the answer to society's ills, there would have been far more calls for accountability. But sadly, the alumni were discouraged from questioning the philosophical direction of the college for fear of breaching the sacred veil of 'academic freedom' and from general apathy and lack of reasonable information. Buckley's book began an important intellectual discourse in the US about the direction of our culture. His wit and mastery of the written word is still fresh and entertaining.
on February 9, 2009
How could a book by a very young man who had just graduated from college that contains detailed criticisms of the philosophy, attitude and method of individual professors under whom he studied change the entire course of American politics? How could a book about policies and personalities in one Ivy League school gain almost instant national recognition and cause intense reactions of either joy or rancor throughout the American intellectual community? More than fifty years after its initial publication in 1951 and after the death of its author, why would you want to read such a book? The answer to these questions is simply that this book is Mr. Buckley's first step down the road toward a conservative revolution against an advancing socialist hegemony and as it was Mr. Buckley's first step it was the nation's first step.
Mr. Buckley was a devout Catholic and committed individualist (I will use this word as he uses it and hope you gain full appreciation for it after reading the forward of the book). He saw that during his education, Yale promoted neither religion nor the ideas of free market economy and personal responsibility in contravention of its own charter. Indeed, most of the professors openly scoffed at both and forcefully propounded the ideas of liberalism that had developed during Wilson's presidency and flourished under FDR. So he wrote this book to admonish the faculty for its bias and imbalance, illuminate the hypocrisy of the college administration and to suggest that the alumni take responsibility for guiding the direction of the curriculum. Along the way he demolishes the myth of "academic freedom." The book failed to change now yet more liberal Yale because the naive Mr. Buckley had not yet learned that alumni out making a buck and carving a life hadn't the time nor intellectual interest to pressure the faculty nor that the faculty was entrenched in academia guarding their collectivist atheist ideas because they intentionally wanted to promulgate their dogma for the purpose of self validation.
So if the book failed to change Yale, how did it succeed nationally? It defined the intellectual battle-lines and called together the troops of the opposition. Thousands of people across Westendom started nodding their heads like bobble dogs saying "Ya know he is right - they did try to shove a lot of nonsense into my head when I was in school." Thousands of people stood up and said "I am an intelligent thinking person and I believe in God - get over it." This book and the then more obscure but now essential "Road to Serfdom" by Frederic Hayek serve as the starting point for rejecting collectivism, big government and the fascism that raises up every 20 years or so whenever America is economically troubled (if my use of the word fascism here puzzles you, please read Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism"). Every kid bound for college should read this book so they can learn not to look at their professors as demigods and to resist their sneering anti-Capitalist anti-religion proselytizing. Every Red State Minded person should read this book to learn to look at the left critically and face them unabashedly.
Mr. Buckley went on to found "National Review" the most widely read magazine of political commentary in the nation, to write spy novels (he was a spy briefly), editorials and works of non-fiction, to produce the PBS show "Firing Line" and to provide much of the impetus for the Reagan Revolution. Second only to my father he was the most influential man in my life. Everything he ever wrote is a delight and this book is a great place to discover that delight.
on December 5, 2003
Some might find it hard to imagine a time when it was shocking to find that students in an Ivy League university were being taught, even sometimes indoctrinated, by socialists and atheists. Today that's about as amazing as the news that water flows downhill.
Mr. Buckley has been right about most things for the last half century. He was very young when he wrote this book, and it was a sign of even better things to come.
Groundbreaking in its day, "God and Man at Yale" is still relevant and important many years later. It launched William F. Buckley Jr into the conservative movement and highlighted the sinking state of academia. WFB's charges of left-wing and anti-religious bias at Yale, and by extension, the university system as a whole were shocking then but old news today. The main points of the book were three: instruction at Yale has an anti-religious bias, a collectivist bias in economics instruction, and the alumni have a duty to address these issues. In the process, WFB assails the cliche of "academic freedom" and shows it to be erroneous as practiced by intellectuals. As only he can do, WFB highlights the leftward/atheist slide at Yale, argues against it, and proposes ways to right the ship. For fans of WFB, this is a must read. For others, after reading this book you'll have a better understanding of why universities have largely become left-wing seminaries.
on February 4, 2015
I read this with high expectations, having heard glowing reviews about Buckley's debut book, the vaunted text which "launched a movement". The writing itself is of quality, but the subject matter is far too specific to the time for most of the book to be greatly relevant today. God & Man directly addresses Yale's turn towards secular humanism, accompanied by growing support for central planning in the economy. A call to action aimed at alumni, urging them to us their financial support of the school to steer it back towards its roots, God & Man has lost something in the changing context. The overwhelming liberalism of most university campuses is no longer a novelty, as it was in the early 1950s. Many of the arguments he makes have similarly lost their relevance as the body of alumni has itself in generations since shifted away from roots Buckley called to defend. More general discussion of political philosophy tends to get lost in the immediate issue at hand; an issue which is quite distant from the world of 2015.
on December 5, 2011
Still timely even after more than 60 years, this book was an amazing act of courage for a brilliant young man freshly minted from one of America's premier universities. WFB pulls no punches in this concise polemic about the goings-on at Yale in the late 1940's to the 1950's. If you ever wondered how our universities mold and shape young minds to a specific political ideology then spend a few hours with WFB and read this book. GAMAY deserves a permanent spot in the library of all those interested in the liberal/conservative battle for our times.
on November 9, 2011
There is no question that the entire Western World is collapsing, one can only guess why. Buckley, supplies us one centered and specific inquiry toward one particular reason for our decline. Although there are many problems one must state within this work there are many more that are absolutely applicable to the realities highly practiced, advocated and professed today within the vast majority of Western Academic institutions; at all levels. One must give credit to the late Bill Buckley Jr. as very few individuals, especially those today, at his age could compile, compose and compliment such a necessary analysis of their alma mater for public reference to future students, graduates and parents footing the bill.
Buckley cannot be condemned for the very narrowly focused work due to his title stipulates the realities within one academic institution; Yale, however does transpose his theory and beliefs to most others in operation during his day. I contest as a graduate from multiple universities and academic establishments that the main thesis offered by Mr. Buckley; Individualism being stomped out to support Collectivist theory. The economic theories advocated by Von Mesis, Hayek or Friedman: Capitalism crushed for society slaughtering Socialism of Keynes or Marx. Morality molested toward the promotion and justification of amorality. Truth being tarnished for factually void sociopolitical anti-intellectual theory. The Judeo-Christian culture that produced the entirety of the Western, once civilized, World being held captive to the relativist principles of Social Pseudo-Science of all are "equal", "good" and "worth of embracing". One could lay, for right or for wrong, the entire subject of "Man Made Global Warming" where, as with all the aforementioned, the use of "Academic Freedom" is employed to entirely censor one side while only affording a positive arena for the psychological conditioning of the other onto the minds of the benighted student body.
Although dated and presented within the narrow confines of impressions Mr. Buckley witnessed while attending Yale, his work; this work can be transposed toward any Academic Institution at any level from elementary school to grad school. Mr. Buckley might well have come out with a second issue of GAMAY only up dated with the introduction of the proliferation of this thesis through other highly pertinent areas as media, legal, political, social, cultural as they effect/infect or effected/infected by today's "progressively" dumbed down Academia.
A colleague of mine (ret) head of Psychiatry and University Hospital within Canada's most prestigious academic institution stated to me "To find a Conservative in Canadian Academia today is like searching for a diamond in a toilet."
Upon closing this review; to which all concerned parents should read (this book) prior to making the choice of whether to send their child to University or Trade School (inclusive of a free library card and a computer to listen to Conservative News Talk Radio: Levin, Savage, Limbough, Hannity, Prager etc. and SunTV) I'd like to suggest a list of other well researched and substantiated works to assist in the validity of Mr. Buckley's work and the effects his concerns has had on society ever since.
1. "Dumbing Down", "The Underground History of American Education" and "Weapons of Mass Instruction" - John T. Gatto
2. "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" - C.I. Thompson
3. "Why Johnny Can't Tell Right From Wrong" - W. Killpatrick
4. "The Great Deceit; Social Pseudo-Sciences" and "Keynes at Harvard" - Z. Dobbs
5. "Foundations, Their Power and Influence" - R. Wormser
6. "Intellectuals" - P. Johnson
7. "Fabian Freeway; The High Road to Socialism in America" - R. Martin
8. "Intellectuals and Society" - T. Sowell
9. "Illiberal Education" - D. D'Sousa
10. "None Dare Call it Education" - Stormer
11. "Capitalism and Freedom" - Friedman
12. "Revolution Via Education" - Bloumenfeld.
on June 9, 2011
We may have won the Cold War against Soviet Communism in 1991, but neither Communism per se (e.g., in China's heartland, in Bjelo-Russia or in Cuba), nor any other form of socialism/collectivism (e.g., in India) is dead. The fight just goes on. I've just read the 50th Anniversary Edition of "God & Man at Yale" by William F. Buckley, Jr.. The situation he described at Yale in the 1940s-50s is now completely replicated in most private and public universities in the USA and Europe. Consequently, a lot of our young students (= "the future leaders of the western world)" don't believe in God, they are secular (atheist or agnostic) and collectivist and believe strongly that only Government can safe the People of the USA. That is complete and utter nonsense, as both you and I who have lived in the past half century know (I was born in 1951, when "God & Man at Yale" was published). But it is clear that it is the young "Obama Democrats" who have turned the ideals of the USA upside down.
The 20th century has empirically demonstrated the abject failure of (National, Communist, Welfare, Islamo-Fascist) Socialism as a societal and moral system. No one can ignore those failures, I thought, since we can read the factual history and we can currently observe the resulting financial and moral wreckage of those societies which adopted any form of Socialism around us. Look at the current financial and moral failures of the national governments in Europe and the European Community and, by implication, now, outside Europe in North-Africa . Are we, the Western World REALLY defending our values, in Afghanistan, in East and SE Asia, in the Middle East and in North Africa, or are we just pretending to and make half-hearted attempts? Did all those millions of brave young men die unnecessarily and inconsequentially on the beaches of Normandy and on those God-forsaken little islands in the Pacific? Did we really earn our way of life? (Yes, I also just saw on Monday, June 6, 2011, "Searching private Ryan" again).
Look at the current financial and moral failures of the US Federal Government and of States like California and New York. Why, then, did young Americans adopt in 2008 the socialist Obama as their President is almost beyond comprehension. Except, of course, when you realize that they were and still are being educated to be secularist and collectivist in almost all our institutions of higher learning.
How what then works? Start by re-reading "God & Man at Yale," compare that with your own experiences in college and universities as students and as professors. The enemy of Collectivism is the ultimate mole which over the past century has deeply and perniciously dug its way into the Western World's academic curricula and professorships under the pretense of "academic freedom." Did we REALLY win the Cold War, or have we actually lost it, in the way Carthago won the war against Rome, but then vanished from the international historical scene? Are we going to win the north-African-Middle_eastern-Afghanistan war(s) in the same fashion? This abomination of surreptitious infiltration of collectivist and secularism into the curriculum of our institutions of higher learning and the slow, but very methodical undermining of our Western value system of enlightened, rational, but ultimately charitable, non-secular thought, has to be exposed, IF we want the Republic of the United States of America to survive as a free nation, representing and inhabiting True Liberty under God.
You were wondering why your college or your university has become so "leftist"? Because we, the Alumni are not speaking up and protesting enough against this surreptitious trend. We have been giving and still give money to our Alma Maters (Columbia University is my Alma Mater), without any conditionality, without any strings attached. We should give money with the expression of our protestations against the secularization and drift towards collectivism. or withhold our money.
That was the reasonable advice of William F. Buckley, Jr. We observe now the dire consequences of not adopting this excellent advice. A man who does not stand in the way of evil and allows it, becomes an accomplice of that evil...So (re-) read "God & man at Yale" and draw your own conclusions.
on December 27, 2008
This great book changed me from a conforming liberal in the 1970s to a free-thinking conservative. Buckley's expansive vocabulary and exquisite use of language is an education in and of itself. The principles of open-mindedness and conviction-based living are an important reminder for modern Americans struggling with issues of education against indoctrination, selflesness against self-centeredness, and freedom of thought against institutional group-think. If you have not read this definitive work of a great mind, read it now. If you, like me, read it long ago, you will find Buckley's words as renewing and refreshing as ever.