Parul Sehgal of The New York Times Book Review reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in The Book Reader.
This week, a book that’s stirring things up: William Deresiewicz’s "Excellent Sheep," a critique of elite colleges in America that says the Ivy League is responsible for producing praise-addicted, conformist, extremely anxious young adults.
According to Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor, colleges pay lip service to diversity, but pull instead from a small group of students—the kind that have been diligent about taking AP classes, volunteering abroad, and loading up with extracurricular activities. In essence, says Deresiewicz, they’re selecting the children of the wealthy.
At college, things get worse. Students get little opportunities to evince or develop the capacity for critical or independent thought.
"Excellent Sheep" was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by Anthony Grafton who said, “Much of [Deresiewicz’s] dystopian description rings true. American universities spout endless, sickening self-praise. Professors are chosen for their specialized knowledge and receive no serious instruction in the art of teaching…Above all, many students suffer from the relentless anxiety, the sense of exhaustion and anomie, that their hyperactivity generates and that Deresiewicz powerfully evokes.”
Find more reviews of new books in the New York Times Book Review at nytimes.com/books.