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The Devil and Webster

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,022 ratings  ·  205 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of You Should Have Known and Admission, a twisty new novel about a college president, a baffling student protest, and some of the most hot-button issues on today's college campuses. Naomi Roth is the first female president of Webster College, a once conservative school now known for producing fired-up, progressive graduates. So Na ...more
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Published March 21st 2017 by Grand Central Publishing
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,022 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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Pouting Always
I had no clue what this book was about and so I just picked it up because who knows and it ended up being about Webster College. We follow along as the first female president ends up entangled with a student protester who takes things too far. I would just like to say that college history and the politics of what happens on campus are super boring to me. I didn't even know Webster College was a place and I definitely didn't know about it's history and I didn't really feel interested in knowing i ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
Existential Storms in Monastic Teapots

The modern university started life in the 13th century as an extension of the medieval monastery. Its mission was to train functionaries, mainly in Ecclesiastical Law and associated writing skills, to serve the needs of the huge international clerical state. Times have certainly changed: the Church is in decline; the Law is still with us but rather more corporate than ecclesiastical; and the young people who participate in it are likely not as rigorously cel
“All that Welcome Week counseling, the special receptions for foreign students and homeschooled students. So much for the big brothers and big sisters assigned to freshmen, with their ice-cream socials in the new students’ dormitory common rooms and their great big college-catered picnic down at the boathouse. So much for the RAs, four to a flour in the freshman dorms, and their late-night pizza parties, also underwritten by the college. And the writing resource centers and the tutoring network, ...more
It’s hard to resist a campus novel. The sixth novel from Jean Hanff Korelitz is unusual in focusing more on the administration than the students of a fictional American college. Webster College, Massachusetts was founded as a Native American training academy in the eighteenth century by missionary Josiah Webster. Now it rivals Harvard and other Ivy League schools, attracting liberal students with its enlightened gender and racial politics. (I had Swarthmore and Oberlin in mind as models.)

Yet Nao
Liz Barnsley
Hmm. Still in consideration on this one. It was beautifully written but not sure it engaged me utterly. I kind of meandered along to the end of it with no real gut instinct. Fuller review to follow later.
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Devil and Webster – 4 stars

I have been saying that it requires some bravery to write this review. The central issue is far more complicated than it initially appears. At first, I found the book slow. It took me awhile to get into it. But I now see the construction of the book was the lens of experiencing all the slow building events from the main characters’ point of view. And the main character – a college president named Naomi Roth, she finds herself in the groundswell of events she cannot
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
I have been lucky enough to meet Jean Hanff Korelitz and attend her wonderful pop up book groups for other authors. Tomorrow, I will get to sit with her to discuss her newest novel which was thoroughly engrossing and very thought provoking. This novel about a campus under siege from student activists who are protesting a situation they do not know the facts of kept me reading over the holiday weekend and made work more tolerable. It is very much a New England novel: liberal, understanding and so ...more
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
at first i found this maddening. we have certain expectations of 1. american novels and 2. academic novels, and this particular book flouts them, infuriatingly. narratives threads are unaccountably cut short. scenes stop in the middle. why couldn't the author go on, use more words, tell us what happened after the last person spoke? why leave scenes so abruptly unfinished? this flouts the narrative expectations of the american novel, and, at first, it seemed to me a sign of poor writing. the thin ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could have given this NO stars I would have. Really was looking forward to it, but there was seriously no point to it. Felt like I was trudging thru mud.
I received this book for free thru the Netgalley and it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Zachary King
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A scathing satire of the prevalence of self-righteousness and pseudo-oppression in college campus protest culture. A perfect storm of protest-worthy material strikes Webster College and its president, Naomi Roth. But all is not as it seems, as the reader discovers what the protestors don't know about the professor denied tenure. So much of this book rang true after years of graduate school! Took a star off because a few threads didn't quite link up and because the satire occasionally wasn't clea ...more
Mr. Gottshalk
This book started as a tough-sledding, 1-star dud and built its way up to three. The author feels, especially in the beginning of the novel, the need to prove she has a verbose vocabulary and command of the minutiae of collegiate doings. She pulls us through the life of a prestigious small-college president Naomi Roth. Roth is beleaguered by a student protest that will not end, and I admit that I wanted to know how it would all turn out. After all, I too went to a small, liberal arts college (wh ...more
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Roman Clodia
Zeitgeisty story of an elite college campus.

Jean Hanff Korelitz’s writing is clean, sharp, purposeful, smart. She knows how to make a story immediately leap to our attention and how to keep the reader rapt. Her new novel is set at a progressive and prestigious college campus in New England within which the author presents a microcosm of the ‘right on’ world we live in today.

A lifelong feminist and staunch believer in the ability of peaceful protest as a means of speaking truth to power, Naomi R
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fbom-titles
I did not know what to expect from "The Devil and Webster," a very current novel set in an eastern liberal arts community named Webster, but I overheard two women in my book club discussing it at the library and decided to go for it. The narrative follows Naomi, the school’s first female (and Jewish) president as she feels her away around the new job. Soon enough, she is dealing with a popular folklore professor who is denied tenure, and the ensuing conflict when his cause is taken up by a stude ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The structure is similar to "You Should Have Known" which is fine with me because I loved it.
A very well researched slow burn but I must admit I saw the end coming.
Abby Pechin
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Drab. I expected more from this novel.
Ann Filiault
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finished this book last night and I’ve been unwrapping its layers ever since. First and foremost, I have to say I bought it because of its cover! Never thought I’d see myself write that! But I happened upon it and immediately recognized the Dartmouth College “skyline.” While Webster College is fictional and located in Massachusetts, the book is filled with charming (and not so charming) Easter eggs for Dartmouth alums and other community members, even the naming of the college itself. So I tho ...more
Kathy Cunningham
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s THE DEVIL AND WEBSTER is a biting, satiric look at higher education in America today. The protagonist, Naomi Roth, is the first female president of upscale Webster College in Massachusetts, a liberal institution with a reputation for turning out thinkers and activists (the narrator calls Webster, “the institution of choice for creative and left-leaning intellectuals of all genders and ethic varieties”). In fact, Webster (and Naomi) is proud of the number of protests held on ...more
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
She has never strived for this job, but Naomi Roth has become the first female president of Webster College almost 20 years ago. With her daughter Hannah she has moved to the small place and turned the school into a competitor of the Ivy League Colleges. Admittedly, she was proud when also her daughter decided not to choose one of the big names but her college for her studies. When the popular lecturer Nicholas Gall is denied tenure track, students organize protest against the college’s administ ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At one point, early in her tenure as the president of an elite, liberal arts college, Naomi realizes the folly of treating everyone as though they are intellectually honest. You see, she is. Intellectually honest. She may not always understand the situation in full (one of the frustrating/compelling/infuriating/intense things about The Devil and Webster is its limited third person narration), but she is honest.

As someone who is, both in age and in activism, caught somewhere between Naomi and her
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't know anything about high stakes exclusive colleges and their recruitment, admissions, and other problems, and after reading this disturbing book, I'm glad I don't. Admin is insane, teaching and support staff are insane, students are insane, and the get the idea. Naomi is the first female president of tiny, highly rated Webster College in Massachusetts. The favorite campus t-shirt says "Webster--the Harvard of Massachusetts". A popular professor has been denied tenure beca ...more
The Devil and Webster is a slow burn campus novel from the perspective of a feminist scholar college president who discovers that ideals and protest are not as clear cut as she once thought. Webster College is an elite liberal arts college in New England and from its less inclusive past has transformed into a centre of free thought, inclusiveness, and protest. Its president Naomi Roth has a protesting past and when another protest sparks up on campus, she sees no reason to discourage it. However ...more
Bonnie Brody
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Webster College is a tony bastion of liberalism and advocacy in rural Massachusetts. Naomi Roth is its first female president, also the first Jewish one. Naomi's daughter Hannah is a student at Webster and becomes involved in a protest movement that flusters Naomi and puts her administrative skills to the test.

When students begin camping out by 'the stump', the central meeting area at Webster, a protest is in the works, one that Naomi barely sees coming. On the surface, the protest is about the
Mar 18, 2017 marked it as dnf-arcs  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I can quite say I read this but I didn't attempt and abandon it either. I skimmed a lot of it. The first half, in particular, is dragged down by huge amounts of unnecessary exposition that's largely irrelevant to the plot. It's also riddled with mind-bogglingly long run-on sentences stuffed with parentheses and ellipses and dashes. I suspect those early readers who have written negative reviews didn't get past this first half.

The Devil and Webster really picks up in the second ha
I had a hard time getting into this, but it picked up as it went on and I could not put it down once I reached the last hundred pages. It gives the reader a lot to think about. A beloved African-American professor has been denied tenure but because of confidentiality rules, the college president, Naomi Roth, cannot reveal that the reason for the denial of tenure is that the professor plagiarized. Since Professor Gall was so well-liked, a student protest has sprung up regarding his situation. Fro ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book on more than one level. On the surface, it is an entertaining and well-written story. On a deeper level, it is thought provoking considering the current state of many college campuses. I've been wondering about university leadership, and their responses to student protests (safe spaces, triggers, etc.) and this book was a fun opportunity to explore from the perspective of, "what would I do in her position?"

There were other threads to the story line I enjoyed: 1) The "fake it
Steve Peifer
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is so much that this book gets right that the big thing it gets wrong is not only jarring but disappointing because it takes you out of the narrative. The author deeply understands selective admissions and the life of an elite northeastern college. The portrait of the president really captures the loneliness of women in power, and it is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

But if you know higher ed, you know there is no possible way a rich school would ever let the incident ge
Vickie Backus
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book, especially since I teach at a top ranked, New England , liberal arts college with its first woman president that is also struggling to increase its racial and economic diversity But I found that I was disappointed. The book is so focused on the main character that everyone else seems to be a stick figure. Their motives are the unclear and seem random. Naomi Roth, the main character is reacting rather than acting and seems unable to move past her past- which is lef ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The first part of this novel was interesting and I liked where the story was headed. Then it took a nose dive was a bit melodramatic and lost any element of surprise. Too many holes in the plot. The character development seemed superficial I had hope for this book but was a disappointment.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love satires set in colleges and universities, and this one was particularly good - a smart sendup of ultra-liberal small colleges struggling with real world biases and challenges, mixed with a dark undercurrent of menace and mystery. Equal parts "Wonder Boys' and "Gone Girl".
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed and would love to read more by this author
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Play Book Tag: The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz, 4 stars 6 17 Dec 19, 2017 05:22PM  

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