A prominent conservative spokeswoman, formerly head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, charges that an attack on truth is undermining the nation's educational, legal, and political institutions and social mores. 50,000 first printing. National ad/promo. Tour.
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Although these two studies look at political correctness from opposite poles, both authors exhort us to replace polemics with rational thought. Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, discusses postmodern thinking in academia, the arts, the media, and our legal system. She shows how fuzzy logic has weakened the standards of objectivity, pointing out as examples English and sociology faculty members who attack the scientific method and scholarly journals filled with ideologically slanted articles. Gitlin (The Sixties, Bantam, 1987) examines the question in a broader social context, believing it has been overblown by conservatives. He also criticizes liberals for abandoning their leadership role in the fight for equal rights for all. Conservatives are now the cultural arbiters, and special-interest groups from both camps are engaging in futile power struggles while the nation limps along without a sense of mission. Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (LJ 3/15/91) and Tom Englehardt's The End of Victory Culture (LJ 1/95) complement these titles. Cheney is recommended for public and academic libraries, while Gitlin will interest academic audiences. [Cheney was previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/95.]?Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
-?Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, summarizes complaints about the cultural malady best thought of as relativism the belief that, in any situation, truthfulness derives from the political relationships perceived by specific ideologies. In each of six chapters, Cheney considers a particular aspect of relativism and the damage it has done: so-called multiculturalism in primary and secondary education; political correctness in the universities; deconstructionism in the scholarship of the humanities; radical feminist legal theory in legal education and jurisprudence; politicized exaggeration and falsification in art, popular culture, and psychotherapy; and so-called new (i.e., politically slanted) news in the mainstream press. Although herself a Republican conservative, Cheney avoids partisanship in her presentation, and while her subject matter sometimes gets quite heady, her exposition remains accessible--so much so that Reader's Digest will be serializing the book. That and Cheney's increasing visibility on political TV talk shows should boost interest in Telling the Truth an interest that it greatly deserves. Ray Olson
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