The Assault on American Excellence

The Assault on American Excellence Review

The former dean of Yale Law School argues that the feverish egalitarianism gripping college campuses today is out of place at institutions whose job is to prepare citizens to live in a vibrant democracy.

In his tenure at Yale, Anthony Kronman has watched students march across campus to protest the names of buildings and seen colleagues resign over emails about Halloween costumes. He is no stranger to recent confrontations at American universities. But where many see only the suppression of free speech, the babying of students, and the drive to bury the imperfect parts of our history, Kronman recognizes in these on-campus clashes a threat to our democracy.

As Kronman argues in The Assault on American Excellence, the founders of our nation learned over three centuries ago that in order for this country to have a robust democratic government, its citizens have to be trained to have tough skins, to make up their own minds, and to win arguments not on the basis of emotion but because their side is closer to the truth. In other words, to prepare people to choose good leaders, you need to turn them into smart fighters, people who can take hits and think clearly so they’re not manipulated by demagogues.

Kronman is the first to tie today’s campus debates back to the history of American values, drawing on luminaries like Alexis de Tocqueville and John Adams to show how these modern controversies threaten the best of our intellectual traditions. His tone is warm and optimistic, that of a humanist and a lover of the humanities who is passionate about educating students capable of living up to the demands of a thriving democracy.

Incisive and wise, The Assault on American Excellence makes the radical argument that to graduate as good citizens, college students have to be tested in a system that isn’t wholly focused on being good to them.

Title:The Assault on American Excellence

    The Assault on American Excellence Reviews

  • Mehrsa

    Seems that the easiest book to get published these days is a long rant about how safe spaces and renaming buildings and complaining minorities are ruining everything. As if Bret Stephens and David Bro...

  • Timothy Hall

    Kronman was dean of the Yale Law School for a decade beginning in 1994. Although he is a self-described progressive, this book is a vigorous assault on the supposed value of "diversity" in higher educ...

  • Andrew

    This is a must read for people struggling to understand the controversy behind removing confederate names and statues. The drive to bury the imperfect parts of our history is dangerous. Kronman had a ...

  • Mel

    I have read this book against a deadline so I might participate and now lead a discussion about it. This is a good book to spark discussion. The author write about extremes. He paints a divide between...

  • An older friend is missing following Dorian. One of the last things she did was send me, and my "sister" group, this book after we talked about Kochland. She even got a wise old teacher to agree to re...

  • Whitney

    I really appreciated the boldness of this book. I'm guessing it's hard to sympathize with professors with their tenure and mostly academically-free ways. Instead of looking for our empathy with storie...

  • Steve

    A provocative look at the several of the forces eroding higher education in today's America. One doesn't have to agree with everything (part of the point of the book-- academia is not the same as demo...

  • Kevin

    Appreciate his points - and agree with nearly all of them - but this book could have been shorter and more direct. ...