The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students, 25th Anniversary Edition
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The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students, 25th Anniversary Edition

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,465 ratings  ·  240 reviews
A professor of social thought at the University of Chicago argues that the social and political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis. 11 cassettes.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 (first published 1987)
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Jun 14, 2009 booklady rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: any college bound student
Bloom's 1987 bestseller is still relevant today. In it he critiques the American education system for removing the Great Books from the required reading in most colleges. Booklady that I am, I couldn't agree with him more. The Great Books should be read and in the originals, not in watered down or abridged versions--however much modern students complain about Dickens being repetitive, etc. If they absolutely cannot force their eyes to follow the words on the page, then get the audio versions of...more
Perhaps this book deserves five stars -- it did, after all, shake me up a bit, the way the best books do. Bloom is rightly concerned with a problem I see in my own classrooms: the assumption that, since all views are to be tolerated in our modern liberal democracy, all views are equally valuable; furthermore, since all ideas are equally worthy of consideration, none of them are worthy of consideration. It is difficult to say anything of real importance about poetry, literature, art, religion, ph...more
Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind was published twenty years ago this month. Parents gave this book to their kids upon graduation from high school to warn them against the moral rot they would encounter at the modern university. I received this book from my uncle (may God rest his soul!) when I was graduated in 1986 but did not read it until after I suffered through the collegiate moral rot from which this book was supposed to rescue me.

Of course, I did not need Allan Bloom to tell me t...more
This is the best argument for conservatism I've ever read. To be fair, it's also the only one I've ever read, outside of the occasional David Brooks column. And let's be honest: Bloom is about as elitist and conservative as you can get. But he makes the position seem very enticing with his brilliant argumentation and his penetrating logic as he delves into the state of the late 20th century American citizen. It doesn't hurt that he has a staggering breadth of knowledge on just about every single...more
When it comes to the contemporary study of Western decline, there is hardly a tome that compares with Allan Bloom's tour de force, "The Closing of the American Mind." Writing in the mid 1980s, he skillfully unravels the knot of factors that have contributed to the current malaise. Nothing escapes his scalpel: feminism, narcissism, affirmative action, cultural relativism, and the collapse of academia are all sliced and diced, exposed in their entire historical and ideological depth.

Bloom (1930-19...more
Mar 27, 2010 §-- rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: At this point, all Americans.
Recommended to §-- by: Every conservative I know.
Shelves: philosophy
5 stars, but that doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, it's one of the most complicated books I've ever read. I took 35 pages of notes on this book, a new record for me for note-taking. I give it 5 stars despite that Professor Bloom vanishes after Part One and his thesis becomes obscured by his grand narratives of philosophy.

Part One is good enough to warrant buying the book, because it is simply the clearest and deepest analysis of postmodern man out there. You can see why people thought Sau...more
Scott Rhee
I was in eighth grade when the late Allan Bloom's 1987 seminal classic "The Closing of the American Mind" was published. I remembered it because my parents, like thousands of other parents across the country, bought it and put it on the bookshelf proudly. And there it sat, unread, for almost two decades.

I wish that I had read it before I had gone off to college, but I will be honest, I probably wouldn't have understood it. I don't pretend to completely understand everything in it now, at age 40...more
One of the most influential books I've read in the last five years. The presentation of a brilliant mind. From a man that is an atheist, homosexual, and conservative. Not conservative in the Ronald Reagan sense. Conservative in that he admires Nietzsche and longs for ancient Athens. A very brilliant analysis of modern culture.
One hundred pages into the book, I picked up a penand began a serious dialogue with this book. I especially found the parts on Nietzsche and Freud important in regard to their impact on American culture. At one point Bloom made the statement that Freud pulled the rug out from under our feet and the elevator plunged bottomlessly down into the psyche. I think this is really apparent in a lot of postmodern and contemporary literature where there is a lot of soul searching and digging through the fa...more
Andrew Morton
Oct 09, 2007 Andrew Morton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People interested in education (or why they're in education)
The Closing of the American Mind is a thoughtful book, if somewhat overwrought at times. With that in mind, it's fair to say that the late professor Bloom's comments on education had some impact on reinvigorating my own interest in academics.

Professor Bloom examines the educational development taking place (then in the 1980s) taking place particularly in elite higher education in the US. While some argue that his appreciation for classical literature and education is antiquated and out of date,...more
Allan Bloom is a hysterical, raving, reactionary lunatic. he and his academia ilk are exactly the reason why education teaches kids nothing, because they know absolutely zero about the children they're supposed to teach. mostly, this book is little more than a "get off my lawn" diatribe against any and all (race, sex, drugs, rock music) youth fascinations, blaming each of them in turn for the "Closing of the American Mind."

Bloom continually condescends in the most irritating manner of the Americ...more
I steadily read this book a few pages, sometimes even a few paragraphs, at a time for about two months. On page 160, I decided to give it up.

Mr. Bloom's politics and mine are totally incompatible.

At the risk of oversimplifying his thesis, I fail to see how short skirts, rock & roll, and encouraging college students to have open minds has (to quote the subtitle) "...Failed Democracy And Impoverished The Souls Of Today's Students." I believe one of the purposes of a liberal arts education is t...more
Benji C
Jun 28, 2009 Benji C rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Benji by: college students (former and current), college graduates, and fa

On balance, this book is a disappointment. It is an important idea (a still much needed polemic against the American aversion to real learning), but it seems deployed with a level of arbitrariness. I was with Bloom for the first few chapters. I applauded his frankness when discussing race in the academy, and how the culture studies ideology is poisonous. I responded with appropriate indignation when he decried the disappearance of a reading culture and the emergence of professional "training." I...more
Jun 13, 2007 Richard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone
an analylitical look at the culture that is modern western society. our society as seen through the eyes of his 40+ years as a professor at an elite university and the degradation of mankind in the west (with plenty to say about the rest of the world, too). doesn't sound too compelling, but unlike the other half-million books on this subject, bloom's insights are at once intellectually honest, relevant and, at times, stunning. bloom dares you to reason with him. here he had placed political corr...more
I haven't actually read this - but it's on my list. However, I couldn't just share the review below unless I listed this book as having been read. So... here is the review that has me watering at the mouth to read this book. I got the review off Amazon. Enjoy! - - Teri

When The Closing of The American Mind was published in 1987, it instantly ignited a firestorm of praise and condemnation. Conser...more
Jun 04, 2010 Elizabeth rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: noone
from the library

Written by a famous author, it is a book that deserves to disappear into obscurity. Not that there is nothing of value but it is like trying to sort out a handful diamonds from a huge pile of glass shards. It has a great deal of internal inconsistancy and parochialism, even patriarchy. I learned a lot by reading reviews of this book.

I suppose it sorts out a lot of different groups of people. For instance I am graduated from a small liberal arts college, mostly self taught even t...more
Hey, get off my case Bloom. I've got an idea, minor but I think worth exploring. A good way to re-educate the American public. You don't even need regional camps with loudspeakers.

Take the Giants of Literature, like Ulysses or all of Dante, grim and deeply reproving, and read only at random, about five or six pages or paragraphs, here and there. But Read these bits intensively, like an concentrated golfer studying the slope of his man-made green. Brush away some edge of leaf or bit of residue l...more
I know nothing about American Universities and so when Bloom says things about the lowering of standards to accommodate black students who have been admitted without the requisite standard of education to succeed I just assume this is standard racist crap. But I’m really not in any position to argue one way or the other.

He certainly doesn’t waste time supporting any of his arguments with facts, mostly just vitriol. In fact, this book is so full of bile that after a while the need to spit become...more
So this is a crabby old white guy who can't get with the times and uses big words, loves obscure references and thinks if everyone just read the 'Classics' in Greek/Hebrew/Latin our problems will go away and we'll be back in 1850 when we had no social problems. sort of.
But his insights into society are so astute and felt (at least to me) so perfectly phrased and diagnosed that more than once I sat/jumped straight up thinking "yes!"
Allan Bloom might have spent a little too much time in academia...more
Darren Hoyt
Bloom's arguments are simultaneously enlightening, educational, maddening and possibly plain wrong. I can't tell if he's a thinker on par with his heroes (Nietzsche, Locke) or a grumpy grandpa who can only express himself in dense literary jargon.

In any case, I felt like a tool for bringing this book to the beach.
It is as if Bloom believes he has divined the totality of meaning in the last 200 years and he alone has the right to judge where the world is failing. He comes across as a grumpy old man who is angry at his students and refuses to believe things he does not like have any value.
They say you should write about something you know. Mr. Bloom knows more about closed minds than most, but I think he should have kept it to himself.
Brian Gatz
I wish I could say more, but I've left my copy behind. Now it's been about a week since I've read it. I'll see what I remember--more so what it has left me. ---There's no question left us that we slouch through college (was anything interesting those four years?). The classes pass easily or pointlessly (general writing, communication, business calculus, light philosophy better adapted to middle school). If you decide on a major in the humanities, your peers (mostly in business or teaching) treat...more
Thomas Dineen
This book is a cautionary tale for those who consider themselves 'educated.' Allan Bloom's erudite, fluently written reflection on the parlous state of the American mind laments the intellectual and moral complacency of today's university students. It also outlines the academic trends that have contributed to our country's growing Philistinism and decadence.

Bloom almost entitled this controversial, surprise best-seller 'Souls Without Longing.' He devotes several chapters to diagnosing the condi...more
Alexandra Arboleda
This is an interesting read with lots of discussion about philosophy. Bloom's critique of some of the problems in our American education system is persuasive and incisive. His disregard for cultural relativism is thought provoking and raises questions about our melting pot culture's desire to tolerate all differences. Have we lost an understanding of who we are due to our tolerance? I do think our education system needs to do a better job of teaching some of the basic precepts that formed our sy...more
"There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative." So begins Allan Bloom's outstanding analysis of American universities and, more broadly, American culture. Published over 20 years ago, it remains relevant. His thesis is that universities have abandoned their callings to be refuges for the pursuit of truth (although make no mistake--Bloom is no Christian); academic freedom no longer e...more
Douglas Dalrymple
This year is the 25th anniversary of Bloom’s famous screed, the supposed ‘first shot’ of the culture wars. As promised, there’s a lot to agree with, and a lot of disagree with. My primary complaint, however, is that for all his erudition and skilfully deployed venom, Bloom becomes personally unbearable after about 150 pages.

O tempora, o mores! American culture is a mess. I can see that, and Bloom surely does something to help you appreciate just what a mess it is, and how it got that way. But di...more
This book was written by a certified windbag. His main premise is that Western civilization is going down the tubes, because we read more books written by women and minorities these days, and because we don't make love to the Western canon on a twice-weekly basis. He also claimed that the repetitive 4/4 beat of certain Rolling Stones songs is a clear indicator of the decline of Western civilization. Given the high standard for culture that he advocates in the book, there was a certain irony, six...more
Aug 07, 2009 Cris added it  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Jeremy Frank, Addy Free
This book is essentially a eulogy for the serious academic study of the humanities in the United States. Here are two fairly representative quotes:

"It is difficult to imagine that there is either the wherewithal or the energy within the university to constitute or reconstitute the idea of an educated human being and establish a liberal education again."

"One cannot and should not hope for a general reform. The hope is that the embers do not die out."

The one remedy Bloom proposes for the spiritual...more
Bryan Smith
Hands down one of the most challenging (and illuminating) books I've read yet. With an astonishing combination of insight, erudition, and philosophical richness, Bloom (in a nutshell) carefully traces the decline of educational standards within the university (especially with regards to the humanities), which he ultimately holds responsible for the anti-intellectual relativism and culture of self-interest that dominates the American mind to this day. Although the book is well written on par, Blo...more
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Allan David Bloom was an American philosopher, essayist and academic. Bloom championed the idea of 'Great Books' education, as did his mentor Leo Strauss. Bloom became famous for his criticism of contemporary American higher education, with his views being expressed in his bestselling 1987 book, The Closing of the American Mind.
More about Allan Bloom...
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“Picture a thirteen-year-old boy sitting in the living room of his family home doing his math assignment while wearing his Walkman headphones or watching MTV. He enjoys the liberties hard won over centuries by the alliance of philosophic genius and political heroism, consecrated by the blood of martyrs; he is provided with comfort and leisure by the most productive economy ever known to mankind; science has penetrated the secrets of nature in order to provide him with the marvelous, lifelike electronic sound and image reproduction he is enjoying. And in what does progress culminate? A pubescent child whose body throbs with orgasmic rhythms; whose feelings are made articulate in hymns to the joys of onanism or the killing of parents; whose ambition is to win fame and wealth in imitating the drag-queen who makes the music. In short, life is made into a nonstop, commercially prepackaged masturbational fantasy.” 18 likes
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