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The Closing of the American Mind

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  4,562 ratings  ·  450 reviews
The Closing of the American Mind, a publishing phenomenon in hardcover, is now a paperback literary event. In this acclaimed number one national best-seller, one of our country's most distinguished political philosophers argues that the social/political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis. Allan Bloom's sweeping analysis is essential to ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published May 15th 1988 by Simon & Schuster (first published December 1987)
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Joseph DeBolt The majority of educational institutions in the U.S. have abandoned classical education in favor of teaching what is politically expedient; the "soft…moreThe majority of educational institutions in the U.S. have abandoned classical education in favor of teaching what is politically expedient; the "soft sciences" faculties aggrandize their influence on how people think instead of helping to create independent thinkers. (less)

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W.
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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, ...more
booklady
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
blakeR
Jun 10, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Trevor
Feb 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-theory
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
...more
Paul Rhodes
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Joshuacitrak
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
...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
...more
Amy
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Samuel Tran
At times it feels like listening to your Republican grandpa at dinner. He begins by bewailing the modern tastes of young people (rock music and walkmans!) and how no one cares about getting a real education these days. The word curmudgeon comes to mind.
Unless you keep reading. Suddenly he begins to lay the groundwork for his complaints. It is rambling, to be sure, but profound and thought-provoking. It begins to shift the way you think. Then he is off on another tangent...Plato...Great
...more
John David
Unless you were attending a university when this book was published, or have a special interest in the general ongoing dialogue we call the culture wars, "The Closing of the American Mind" may not be on your radar. When it first came out in 1987, it caused quite a fracas and became, I'm sure to everyone's (including Allan Bloom’s) surprise, a bestseller. It's difficult for me to imagine a book by an unprepossessing University of Chicago professor on the debilitating effects of Heidegger and ...more
Angela
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
...more
Mehrsa
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Bloom was so sure a few decades that we fixed racism and sexism that people were complaining for no reason. College campuses are segregated, he says, and it's not at all the fault of white students. Women are also still bitching even though every door is opened to them and we got rid of sexual harassment. I believe he spoke too soon. Still, reading this made we nostalgic for Bloom's sober and curmudgenly conservatism--so sure were they that the left would destroy American civilization that they ...more
Mark
Jul 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
sologdin
Nov 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
was expecting this to be a more charming version of Kimball's awful Tenured Radicals, but it is rather much more rigorous and thoughtful. that said, am still reading it as 'wrong.'

author reveals his major malfunction late in the text, which occurred during a campus altercation wherein certain left activists occupied university buildings and apparently took hostages of university personnel. this event, and university's failure to discipline, soured author on entire left project in the '60s, if
...more
Mun
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, I was inspired to write the following:

___

On Graduating

I have been wondering for a while now what I have gained from the past four years at University. When I refused a practical, career-driven Accounting program at [University] for the sake of studying Cognitive Science at [my University], I thought I was making the right choice. I wanted to be educated. Cognitive Science promised something beyond rote office learning, manmade laws to accommodate white collar workers'
...more
robin friedman
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Education, Democracy, And Soul

The late Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind" was an unexpected bestseller when it appeared in 1987. It is an outstanding work combining polemic against the diminution of American standards with serious thought about how we came to this impasse. Bloom's book is a testament to the power of ideas.

If "The Closing of the American Mind" captures Bloom's thought, his friend Saul Bellow's novel, "Ravelstein" (1996) captures much of Bloom the man. I think
...more
Andrew Morton
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Robert
Sep 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
I can't understand what I was thinking all those years ago, when I read this the first time. The author is obviously massively well read, and has a broad range of exposure and experience in arts, music, and literature. I have to wonder how a person with so much exposure to the best of western culture could author such a narrow, biased, sneering, elitist, and hateful rant. I'm so sorry that i wasted my time the first time, and doubly sorry now all these years later.
Gerard
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Matt
Feb 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Teri
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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When The Closing of The American Mind was published in 1987, it instantly ignited a firestorm of praise and condemnation.
...more
Ben Crosby
Aug 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ben 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
Mike
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a challenging (read: worthwhile) book for anyone who has any interest in defining, experiencing, or achieving education. Bloom's discussion of campus politics and the newly arrived student's hopes and frustrations cut too close to the bone for the general criticisms to hold much water; Noam Chomsky, as usual almost impossibly dismissive, called it mind-bogglingly stupid, and Lawrence Levine devoted an entire book to an argument that Bloom accepts and places in context in a few short ...more
Richard
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Vaishali
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-critics
For an English professor, Mr. Bloom's grammar and editing skills are rather surprising. At times, footnotes on the bottom of pages are longer than the body paragraphs they're meant to supplement. There are run-on sentences everywhere, and even when I wanted to agree with the author, the lack of writing basics discredited him at the get-go :)
Roseanna White
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some really good insights in here on how the new motto of American higher education is oxymoronic and ultimately devalues what education is meant to be...and also a whole lot of words that made my eyes glaze over as Bloom explores themes of philosophy in general that seemed to have little to do with his thesis. I listened to the audio and would have preferred reading it in paper, I think, so I could skim sections that I didn't find as interesting. (Hate confessing to the desire to skim, but ...more
Simon Robs
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most certainly this book is dated even at only 30 years' remove. However, just like its posited theme of timeless quality (read Pirsig for a fab. enunciation of such) that no and all ages may diminish. I reread this book more with an eye to survey or overview of key Western Civ. thought domain rather than a takedown of current ('87) state of affairs in secondary education. What he bemoans of the student populace (in general) as to egalitarian principals to trump all others is now (I think) ...more
Peycho Kanev
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh, what a mind did Professor Ravelstein have!
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Jul 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
It's easy to mock the author. Rock music leads to promiscuous sex, sex is bad when it has no consequences, blacks stick together, "no fault insurance, no fault divorce, and no fault sex" leads to lessening of our values, romantic love is dead, and so on, but that's not the reason he wrote the book and I won't mock him for those silly statements.

He does state that "tradition and myths even if they are not real" help us determine our real nature and develop our soul. Our individual values and
...more
Kyle
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"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 ...more
Greg Talbot
Jun 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Feebeled young minds of America, watch out! Allan Bloom takes on 'Higher Education'. He attempts to show how its weak-spirited curriculum has little to help the young grow and prosper
into fully realized educated adults.

With heaviness and drama, Bloom explains how contemporary culture - music, books,cultural thought, relationships pale in comparison to the classics. Wistfully he ponders how his pure heart opened with joy when he first came to University of Chicago, and became acquainted with
...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.
“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency -- the belief that the here and now is all there is.” 291 likes
“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.” 34 likes
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