Reviews for Victims' Revolution : The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind
Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
One consequence of the successful campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s to include perspectives beyond those of"dead white males" was to reject traditional humanism in favor of what Bawer and others view as a radical ideology that pervades campuses today. Bawer laments that multicultural studies focused on injustices based on race, class, and gender have facilitated a loss of common values and truths and a relentless bashing of the West as the perpetrator of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. Bawer, author of While Europe Slept (2005), lambastes radical rhetoric that deconstructs traditional humanities and Western literary canons, "self-referential dead ends" that negate the value of Western culture and focus on the wrongs committed against women, people of culture, and other perceived victims. Bawer examines the major influences on the teaching of humanities today, including Marxist socialists Franz Fanon and Paulo Freire. In separate sections, Bawer takes to task women's, black, queer, and Chicano studies, exploring their impact on various campuses. Bawer is passionate in his criticism of the current state of academia and its effects on broader American culture. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Bawer (The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam, 2012, etc.) attacks the alleged takeover of American universities by identity studies faculty who turn students into close-minded, America-bashing semi-intellectuals. The author devotes the bulk of his polemic to what he sees as the undesirable academic disciplines of women's studies, black studies, Chicano studies and queer studies. (Bawer is openly gay but asserts that he is not a mainstream gay man intellectually.) He believes the corruption of entire university campuses derived from liberal/radical movements of the 1960s. The college students who grew up during that era frequently became professors, individuals guided by a belief that oppressed groups should be studied as movements, with little emphasis on individual rights. In Bawer's version of American higher education, anti-capitalist, anti-American authors such as Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci dominate campus curricula, driving out more moderate scholars who celebrate the current strengths and future possibilities of the United States. Bawer offers copious anecdotes as representative of across-the-board reality on thousands of American college campuses. These anecdotes are purported to prove his already formed hypothesis, rather than allowing a hypothesis to grow organically from hard evidence. Toward the end of the book, Bawer throws in attacks on additional identity study realms, including disability studies, fat studies, men's studies and whiteness studies. He calls on parents of potential college students to examine curricula carefully and avoid campuses--even the Harvards and the Yales--that he believes have been hopelessly compromised. Bawer is a powerful user of language relying on weak evidence and preconceived notions to create a questionable reality. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 April #1
Since Bawer's While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within was a New York Times best seller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, it's worth paying attention to his latest, a critique of how identity politics have shaped the academy in the last four decades. Nicely controversial; with a 50,000-copy first printing. [Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #4
Postmodern academia's cult of race-class-and-gender victimization is oppressing the rest of us, according to this feisty j'accuse. Literary critic Bawer (A Place at the Table) mounts major assaults on once trendy, now entrenched university humanities programs in feminist studies, black studies, Chicano studies, and queer theory, along the way savaging Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Michael Eric Dyson, and other intellectual grandees. He pillories these disciplines for being anti-capitalist and anti-American; their ever more baroque subcategorizations of victimhood (he's incensed that queer theory lumps gay white men like him in with the oppressors); their knee-jerk defense of Muslim cultures steeped in the sexism and homophobia they otherwise deplore; the stale jargon and rote clichés they substitute for original scholarship; and their vision of society as a tapestry of balkanized groups rather than discerning individualism. Bawer scores lots of entertaining points against the insufferable posturing and unreadable prose that pervades identity studies, but his critique seldom engages seriously with the intellectual content of the field; mostly he denounces the idea of dragging politics and sociology into the hallowed precincts of the humanities. Bawer's is a lively, cantankerous takedown of a juicy target. Agent: John Talbot, the Talbot Agency. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC