"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic for Time magazine comes the tremendously controversial, yet highly persuasive, argument that our devotion to the largely unexamined myth of egalitarianism lies at the heart of the ongoing "dumbing of America."
Americans have always stubbornly clung to the myth of egalitarianism, of the supremacy of the individual average man. But here, at long last, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic William A. Henry III takes on, and debunks, some basic, fundamentally ingrained ideas: that everyone is pretty much alike (and should be); that self-fulfillment is more imortant than objective achievement; that everyone has something significant to contribute; that all cultures offer something equally worthwhile; that a truly just society would automatically produce equal success results across lines of race, class, and gender; and that the common man is almost always right. Henry makes clear, in a book full of vivid examples and unflinching opinions, that while these notions are seductively democratic they are also hopelessly wrong.
"A wide-ranging, free-swinging commentary that will raise the hackles of nearly everyone." New York Times
"In Defense of Elitism not only doesn't suffer fools gladly, it twists their tiny fluttering wings off." The New York Observer
"Bill Henry was one of the toughest, smartest, and most original men of letters in our generation. In Defense of Elitism shows him at his most provocative and controversial. Even when I disagree with his arguments, I admire the rigor of his thinking, the style with which he sets these ideas forth. A fitting memorial to one of our most original minds." Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department and director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies at Harvard University, and co-editor of Encyclopedia Africana.
Those inclined to anger at Henry's premise – and his is an incendiary work – may wish to join Skip Gates in actually reading the book before forming an opinion. Of course, it does save time to dismiss out of hand ideas one finds offensive – or that one thinks one will find offensive, not having actually engaged them. Just ask the sensitivity mavens in the Diocese of Lafayette, La.