Edgar Z. Friedenberg (1927-2000) was an American social critic and scholar of education. His books include Coming of Age in America and Growth and Acquiescence.

Un-Canadian Activities

Formal civil liberties are not highly valued in Canada, where disorder is feared more than oppression. While Canadians of course regard themselves as free people in a free society, they prefer to rely on tradition, compromise, and the common law to safeguard their liberties. “This business of rights, that’s not …

Splitting Up

This small book is Jane Jacobs’s first since she became a resident of Canada in the late 1960s. It is a tour de force, the kind of force that expresses itself through restraint and precision, like a laser beam used with such exquisite care as not to insult the distressed …

School’s Out

Every year it gets a little harder to write about the schools as if they might be improved. So far as I know, very few people do so any more unless they have some gimmick to sell for the purpose—often enough, as the Schrags make horrifyingly clear in their book, …

Survivors

Though the events discussed in these two books took place more than six years apart, they give the impression of dealing with different aspects of the same circumstance. Both are concerned with the catastrophic effects on the lives of Americans of opposition to American policy. The Reverend Robert Spike was …

Good Manners

Until I moved to Canada three years ago I had never heard of The Canadian Forum; nor had it occurred to me to be curious about Canadian politics and culture. I did not know that in 1920 a group of University of Toronto faculty and undergraduates founded the Forum, a …

Schools for Scandal

Since the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley signaled the official opening of the American student revolt in 1964, so much attention has been given to various efforts to improve or reconstruct the obviously inadequate and dangerous model of American higher education that earlier efforts to found experimental colleges recede into …

After Puberty, What?

All three of these works have, as their subject, certain aspects of the life—of the very different lives—of young people today; mostly in America, though there are glimpses of Jamaica in Mr. Reeves’s book and some cross-cultural observation, chiefly in a paper by Joseph Douvan, “The Political Imagination of the …

Dear Mr. Rockefeller…

“In rummaging through Africa and inventing the Nation of Islam,” Peter Schrag observes in The Decline of the WASP, “Malcolm and the Muslims managed, really for the first time, to color Americanism black; the triumph of Malcolm’s hustle was his ability to make some people believe that the stolen goods …

Pox Americana

Dr. Rosebury’s readable and enlightening account of the history and present extremely active status of venereal disease is interesting for reasons that far transcend his subject. The subject itself is, of course, of general interest. Syphilophobia is a classic form of obsessional anxiety, frequently encountered and described in the psychiatric …

Ship of Fools

In 1967 Frederick Wiseman released the first in a series of films he has produced and directed which have realized new possibilities in the use of the motion picture in revealing and recording the functioning of social institutions. This was Titicut Follies, which was filmed at Bridgewater State Hospital for …

Southern Discomfort

The American South has always been treacherous to those who try to describe and explain it, and capture its reality. The finest writers in America have written fiction about it—many of them intentionally—but it traps its more earnest interpreters into using it as a kind of Thematic Apperception Test. It …

Bad Blood

In The Gift Relationship, the distinguished Professor of Social Administration at the University of London, Richard M. Titmuss, examines and discusses a quite unfamiliar but most revealing index of social values. His book, subtitled “From Human Blood to Social Policy,” is a study in depth of the contrast between the …

Youth Wants to Know

All the books in this remarkable collection, except for Mr. Wakefield’s novel, are works of reportage; and all of them are perceptive and sophisticated in their understanding of how life goes on in America today. Each is well worth reading; together they complement and reinforce one another. Two of them, …

In the Cage

There are certain classical patterns of scholarship which are still both useful and beautiful to watch; and which few scholars any longer trouble to carry through completely. The failure to do so results in bitty and irrelevant research of the most familiar kind. The rare exception is both satisfying in …

National Self-Abuse

What is most novel about the way we have come to view contemporary social crisis is the dynamic and destructive role we ascribe to technology. With rare and prophetic exceptions, like Henry Adams in The Virgin and the Dynamo, most Western writers, even when unsympathetic to the effects of technical …

Report from the Niagara Frontier

In September, 1969, President Martin L. Meyerson of the State University of New York at Buffalo announced that he was taking a two-thirds leave from the university for the forthcoming academic year, in order to become director of the American Assembly on Goals and Governance of the University—a new task …

Outcasts

To call Peter Nabokov’s book on Reies Tijerina and his curious and moving career superb—which it is—is in fact to underrate it, or at least to miss the point of its manifold excellence. The complexities of his subject require of Mr. Nabokov a high degree of mastery in several distinct …

Patriotic Gore

Reflections Upon a Sinking Ship is a collection of twenty-five essays, most of them on topics related to literature, which Mr. Vidal has published since 1963. Several first appeared in this journal. Together, they constitute the second volume of unassuming but distinguished work which is, I believe, quite unlike anything …

Only in America

In September, 1967—fifteen years after his first and best-known book The True Believer had been published—Eric Hoffer, the San Francisco longshoreman and author, made his debut on national television. The broadcast, an hour-long interview, “made millions of confused and troubled Americans feel very much better about their country. He had …

Sentimental Education

These books, taken together, are as depressing in their implications for American education as any set of documents could be. This is not because their authors are pessimistic. They are sturdily optimistic; Leonard is even joyful. What is unpleasant about them is not primarily their tone but their relationship to …

Motown Justice

About midnight of July 25, 1967, during the period of racial tension in Detroit usually referred to as a summer riot, three young men—Carl Cooper, Auburey Pollard, and Fred Temple, were shot to death at close range in the Algiers Motel, on Woodward Avenue—a modern place with TV, swimming pool, …

The Way We Live Now

These must be bad days for historians with literary interests. They, alone among social scientists, cannot hope to participate in the situations and events that engage their attention. The most serious writing about social processes today seems to be by persons who took part in them at least as journalists.