100 books like The Assault on American Excellence

By Anthony T. Kronman,

Here are 100 books that The Assault on American Excellence fans have personally recommended if you like The Assault on American Excellence. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Christopher Dale Author Of Better Halves: Rebuilding a Post-Addiction Marriage

From my list on couples recovering from addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a husband, father, writer, and recovering addict – and not necessarily in that order. Early in my marriage, I became a full-blown, low-bottom cocaine addict. While it wasn’t surprising that active addiction nearly led to divorce, my wife and I were baffled and discouraged when my newfound sobriety brought its own existential marital issues. Frustratingly, there was a dearth of resources for couples in recovery, especially compared to the ample support available to recovering addicts. As an avid freelance writer, I decided to add to this sparse genre by sharing our struggles, setbacks, and successes en route to a happy, secure marriage. 

Christopher's book list on couples recovering from addiction

Christopher Dale Why did Christopher love this book?

What’s a book against language policing and cancel culture doing on a list about post-addiction marriage? Simple: the self-obsessed, oft-offended nonsense permeating universities exemplifies what married couples in recovery must roundly reject. 

The book’s co-authors – a social psychologist and a free speech activist – profess three Great Untruths adversely affecting Generation Z: 

What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. This prompts us to avoid narratives challenging our preconceived notions or personal experiences. 

Always trust your feelings. Among other problems, unquestionably trusting our feelings leads to taking offense when none is intended.

Life is a battle between good and evil people. This leads to a blame-first mentality that assumes the worst about others. 

They may as well have been speaking to married couples attempting to stay together post-recovery.

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Coddling of the American Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction * A New York Times Notable Book * Bloomberg Best Book of 2018

"Their distinctive contribution to the higher-education debate is to meet safetyism on its own, psychological turf . . . Lukianoff and Haidt tell us that safetyism undermines the freedom of inquiry and speech that are indispensable to universities." -Jonathan Marks, Commentary

"The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Something…


Book cover of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Lilla’s goal in this book is to show how identity politics threatens the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. He argues that the party has thrown citizenship—the “we” in political conversation—out the window in favor of “personal identities in terms of the inner homunculus, a unique little thing composed of parts tinted by race, sex, and gender,” and that this will be electorally disastrous for the Democrats. But Lilla’s arguments show that it is disastrous for our national conversation as well. When we give personal identity weight in an argument (Lilla is superb at eviscerating the shopworn phrase “speaking as an X”) we turn the intellectual clock back to premodern times when arguments were settled by power and force.

By Mark Lilla,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Once and Future Liberal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most internationally admired political thinkers, a controversial polemic on the failures of identity politics and what comes next for the left — in America and beyond.

Following the shocking results of the US election of 2016, public intellectuals across the globe offered theories and explanations, but few were met with such vitriol, panic, and debate as Mark Lilla’s. The Once and Future Liberal is a passionate plea to liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of the future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.

Driven…


Book cover of The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Ellis chronicles the history of how the university turned from an institution of open inquiry into a political monoculture that requires those in it to adhere to a particular ideology. Ellis is particularly good at showing how the strengths of the traditional university were turned into weaknesses and allowed it to be captured by the adherents of identity politics. Old-style independent scholars are hard to organize, Ellis points out, because they are just that—independent. But these truly independent scholars were no match for the politically organized groups that wanted to use the university to advance a political agenda.

By John M. Ellis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Breakdown of Higher Education as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A series of near-riots on campuses aimed at silencing guest speakers has exposed the fact that our universities are no longer devoted to the free exchange of ideas in pursuit of truth. But this hostility to free speech is only a symptom of a deeper problem, writes John Ellis.

Having watched the deterioration of academia up close for the past fifty years, Ellis locates the core of the problem in a change in the composition of the faculty during this time, from mildly left-leaning to almost exclusively leftist. He explains how astonishing historical luck led to the success of a…


Book cover of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars

Keith E. Stanovich Author Of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

From my list on university identity politics and political correctness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor living in Portland, Oregon, officially retired, but still writing articles and books. Although I am a lifelong US citizen, I spent the heart of my career as the Canada Research Chair of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Most of my books are about aspects of rationality, especially cognitive biases. I have also worked on tools for measuring individual differences in rationality. Lately, I have focused on ways to reduce political polarization by taming the myside bias that plagues all human thought, and by reforming institutions (especially universities) that are currently failing in their role as knowledge adjudicators. 

Keith's book list on university identity politics and political correctness

Keith E. Stanovich Why did Keith love this book?

Campbell and Manning are sociologists who trace how a new moral culture of victimhood has given rise to political correctness. The new moral culture combines the properties of the old culture of honor and the old culture of dignity in a uniquely toxic way. The new victimhood culture borrows from honor culture its extreme sensitivity to insult, but borrows from the culture of dignity the tendency to call upon authorities and institutions to resolve disputes, rather than deal with them on a personal level. The victimhood culture is what has spawned the repressive campus environment of micro-aggressions, deplatforming, and bias response teams.

By Bradley Campbell, Jason Manning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise of Victimhood Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Rise of Victimhood Culture offers a framework for understanding recent moral conflicts at U.S. universities, which have bled into society at large. These are not the familiar clashes between liberals and conservatives or the religious and the secular: instead, they are clashes between a new moral culture-victimhood culture-and a more traditional culture of dignity. Even as students increasingly demand trigger warnings and "safe spaces," many young people are quick to police the words and deeds of others, who in turn claim that political correctness has run amok. Interestingly, members of both camps often consider themselves victims of the other.…


Book cover of The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do about It

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

A potentially enormous benefit of the scientific revolution is that government policies can be based on empirical evidence rather than hunches, guesses, and biases.

Unfortunately, the eroding credibility of science and scientists undermines the persuasiveness of scientific evidence supporting or refuting the likely consequences of government policies. Otto explains how and why evidence-based policy-making is under attack from identity politics, political ideology, and businesses.

By Shawn Otto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War on Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the MN Book Award for Nonfiction. "Wherever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government." But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society--from climate change to vaccinations, transportation to technology, health care to defense--we are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of scientific progress and a simultaneous expansion of danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast, well-funded, three-part war on science: the identity politics war on science, the ideological…


Book cover of In Search of Pure Lust: A Memoir

Allan Hunter Author Of That Guy in Our Women's Studies Class

From my list on memoirs from interns, activists, feminists and others.

Why am I passionate about this?

Allan D. Hunter came out as genderqueer in 1980, more than 20 years before “genderqueer” was trending. He decided that women's studies in academia was the proper place to discuss these ideas about gender, so he headed to New York to major in women's studies as one of the first male students to do so. 

Allan's book list on memoirs from interns, activists, feminists and others

Allan Hunter Why did Allan love this book?

This book is a feminist memoir that focuses on the passionate experience of being politically connected with others, and juxtaposes that with the divisiveness and the unfortunate polarization of identity politics.

She also makes a strong case for a nuanced reading of political situations, showing how simplistic knee-jerk litmus testing becomes toxic within any movement, no matter how righteous the cause.

By Lise Weil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of Pure Lust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Lise Weil came out in 1976, she came out into a land that was all on fire. Lesbian desire was the pulsing center of an entire way of life, a culture, a movement. The air throbbed with possibility. At the center of In Search of Pure Lust is Weil’s immersion in this culture, this movement: the grand experiment of lesbian feminism of the ’70s and ’80s. She and the women around her lived in a state of heightened erotic intensity that was, she believed, the source of their most vital knowledge. Desire was their guiding light. But after fifteen…


Book cover of Campusland

Andrew Pessin Author Of Nevergreen

From my list on the college campus and its craziness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor myself who writes novels, so am especially drawn to novels about campus life! I really do value the life of the mind, but am also aware of just how strange a life that is within contemporary culture. At the same time, campuses are hotbeds of ideas, ranging from the deep and the true to the shallow and the crazy, and young passionate impressionable students simmer in those ideas for several years and then go on to shape our future. What could be more important than novels which bring all that to light? 

Andrew's book list on the college campus and its craziness

Andrew Pessin Why did Andrew love this book?

And then there was Campusland… Fast, funny, and brutal in its satirical account of today’s campuses, with their “safe spaces” and identity politics and administrators and students alike running amok, this is a book with an agenda (be forewarned) but which executes that agenda extremely well. Johnston really nails certain character types present on many liberal arts colleges and elite campuses, as well as the dynamics as those characters execute their own agendas. If you share the author’s agenda you will lap it up; if not, you will be enraged; but either way you will be entertained. And if you haven’t been paying attention to the campus scene for a while—prepare to be shocked.  

By Scott Johnston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Campusland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eph Russell is an English professor up for tenure. He may look and sound privileged, but Eph is right out of gun-rack, Bible-thumping rural Alabama. His beloved Devon, though, has become a place of warring tribes, and there are landmines waiting for Eph that he is unequipped to see. The cultural rules are changing fast.

Lulu Harris is an entitled freshman - er, first year - from Manhattan. Her singular ambition is to be a prominent socialite - an "It Girl." While most would kill for a place at Devon, to her college is a dreary impediment. She is pleasantly…


Book cover of Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism

Merrill Cole Author Of The Other Orpheus: A Poetics of Modern Homosexuality

From my list on queer theory to gain an understanding of the field.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been pondering philosophical questions and trying to understand my queer sexuality since childhood. While checking out The Portable Nietzsche in my high school library, the librarian warned me the philosopher was “a bad man.” Then I had to read the book, which not only taught me to become critical of all forms of authority, but also, perhaps paradoxically, empowered me to embrace my queerness. As a college and graduate student, I studied many of the American academic movements based in Continental philosophy grouped under the rubric, “theory.” When queer theory emerged in the early 1990s’, I found a place for myself. I'm convinced that we should never stop putting our identities under critique.

Merrill's book list on queer theory to gain an understanding of the field

Merrill Cole Why did Merrill love this book?

Profit and Pleasure is the most provocative Marxist intervention in queer theory.

Hennessy charges that queer theory’s focus on representation, identity, and subjectivity works to render the structures of capitalism invisible. Postindustrial capitalism produces “gender-flexible” and sexually diverse subjects to meet the demands of today’s globalized commodity system.

Queer theory, instead of addressing this development, has aided in our commodification by repressing the connections between the multiplication of identities and economic exploitation, connections that capitalism works to conceal. Queer theory needs to extend beyond the cultural purview of identity politics to address contemporary capitalism directly.

By Rosemary Hennessy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Profit and Pleasure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on an international range of examples, from Che Guevarra to "The Crying Game," Profit and Pleasure leads the discussion of sexuality to a consideration of material reality and the substance of men and women's everyday lives.


Book cover of Democracy in America

Peter Laufer Author Of Up Against the Wall: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border

From my list on the middle of america from New Jersey to Oakland.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I moved with my family. I've moved for school. And I am not sure I could resurrect how many times my family moved for my journalism work. These books help me try to understand my wanderlust. Peter Laufer is an independent journalist, broadcaster, and documentary filmmaker working in traditional and new media. He is the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Peter's book list on the middle of america from New Jersey to Oakland

Peter Laufer Why did Peter love this book?

And no such list is complete without Alexis de Tocqueville's classic from the 19th century, Democracy in America. Weighing in just two pages short of Don Quixote's 937 (paperback both, the ECCO Grossman Quixote translation and the Penguin Gerald Bevan de Tocqueville edition), Tocqueville ponders a question most of us contemplate and plenty of us act on: "Why Americans are so restless in the midst of their prosperity..."

By Alexis de Tocqueville,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Democracy in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville's classic treatise on the American way of life.

Over 175 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville, an astute political scientist, came to the United States to evaluate the meaning and actual functioning of democracy. Here, Tocqueville discusses the advantages and dangers of majority rule—which he thought could be as tyrannical as the rule of a monarchy. He analyzes the influence of political parties and the press on the government and the effect of equality on the social, political, and economic life of the American people. He also offers some startling predictions about world politics, which history…


Book cover of 'I Still Find That Offensive!'

Dennis Hayes Author Of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education

From my list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing articles for the education press I became aware of how children and young people were presented as vulnerable, as potential victims. Sometimes they also saw themselves in this way as weak, unable to cope, and lacking in the ability to take control of their lives. This seemed to me to be damaging and needed challenging. But writing about the therapeutic turn was not enough. What had to be challenged was the fear of freedom and speech and debate that were essential to beginning to take control of your life. In response I set up Academics For Academic Freedom, the leading campaign group for free speech, no ifs, no buts. 

Dennis' book list on recognising the therapeutic turn in education

Dennis Hayes Why did Dennis love this book?

Claire Fox is the founder of the Academy of Ideas, a think tank that has produced the annual Battle of Ideas Festival for over a decade and a half. Fox is passionate about freedom and speech and debate. This short polemical book begins and ends with how young people have adapted to victim culture. It begins with an example of how genuinely hurt young people are when hearing views that they found offensive. This book is said to have been responsible for the introduction of the concept of the ’snowflake generation’ into the UK. But Fox is nuanced in her approach, and she ends her book with a ‘Letter to the Snowflake Generation’ and a ‘Letter to the Anti-Snowflake Generation’. Her book should be mandatory reading for anyone beginning university.

By Claire Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 'I Still Find That Offensive!' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW AND UPDATED EDITION OF THE BOOK THAT INTRODUCED THE TERM `SNOWFLAKE'

When you hear that now ubiquitous phrase `I find that offensive', you know you're being told to shut up. While the terrible murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists demonstrated that those who offend can face the most brutal form of censorship, it also served to intensify the pre-existing climate that dictates we all have to walk on eggshells to avoid saying anything offensive - or else.
Indeed, competitive offence-claiming is ratcheting up well beyond religious sensibilities. So, while Islamists and feminists may seem to have little in common,…


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