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Customer Review

on August 14, 2010
"Sorbonne Confidential" is a well-written and humorous account of one woman's discovery that French higher education actually stacks the deck against students who are not of French origin. The curriculum leading to competitive exams for an advanced degree in English (which is a requirement for a high-school level teaching position) is almost completely lacking in practical language skills, and the reading assignments seem to have been chosen for a slight undercurrent of prejudice against the U.S. Besides that, NOBODY reads H.L. Mencken any more! (Actually, his "The American Language" would be well worth study by people learning English, but that work wasn't on the reading list.) I read some of Mencken when I was a teenager, but that was half a century ago. Why should a reading list for English-learners NOT include works deemed by Americans as classic American literature, such as anything by Mark Twain, much of Melville, and "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Catcher in the Rye" - all of them still widely read - among many other possibilities?

I would like to read more about the subjects this book touches on. I hope it has had some effect (for the better) in France. I enjoyed this book all the way through, but docked a star for some loose ends, such as - was the author ever able to interview the big-shot "educators" she approached, and if so, what did they have to say? There were also some personal notes I wish had been followed up and still wonder about, such as looking for her father's long-gone relatives. Still, I recommend it highly - it felt like "light reading" although it was very thought-provoking.

I read the Kindle version, and the formatting did not bother me as much as the fact that I could not follow the footnotes, but there were not so many footnotes as to make it a big problem. (Usually footnotes can be followed on Kindle.)
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