Reviews

As disinfectants, the authors realize they don't come close to scrubbing clean the combustible scrap heap of the debate over 'political correctness' and its ramifications. But they try. Their main contention -- that universities have sinister double infrastructures that repress free speech and should be exposed -- is full of fiery rhetoric and outrage. And, it should be noted, their argument, though contentious, is not without merit. What they add, in effect, are two lines of analysis -- strict legal history of cases and precedents throughout the past century, and a narrative account of incidents in the past decade or so from across the country. The legal rendering is straightforward, and the stories are hard to argue with. Presented in a clear light, the incidents are outrageous enough without the authors needing to add their emphasis. The secretive committee meetings, the favoritism, the backstabbing and the sanctimoniousness are all just there, especially in the water buffalo case.

-- The Forward, "Speech Battles Rattle Ivory Towers, 5 Years After 'Water Buffalo' Flap," by Beth Pinsker, October 16, 1998


Alan Charles Kors, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer, deliver the unexpected.... Students and faculty members with the temerity to challenge the new orthodoxy are not dealt with kindly.... Most usefully, Kors and Silverglate provide an unsparing picture of how campus authorities settle these cases.... To their credit, Kors and Silverglate are old-fashioned civil libertarians who support everyone's right to sound off.... The abuses they describe need fixing, and this cogent book should help.

-- The New York Times Book Review, "P.C. 101," by Sam Tanenhaus, November 8, 1998


What distinguishes this outspoken contribution to a contentious national debate already clotted with combatants is the authors' scathing campus-by-campus tour, documenting what they see as repressive speech codes, sweeping notions of sexual harassment and arbitrary disciplinary hearings against students and faculty that lack due process protection. The authors' well-nigh absolutist defense of robust free speech -- even when its content is viciously racist or otherwise hateful -- guarantees that their brief will be controversial.

-- Publishers Weekly, September 7, 1998


An eye-opening and well-documented exposé about what could happen to your children when they are sent to even the best colleges in the country. Kors and Silverglate demonstrate that when these colleges, purportedly devoted to liberal education, treat students in disciplinary proceedings, they make the notorious Star Chamber seem liberal in comparison. A wake-up call for parents, students, and professors alike.

-- Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School


A massive, irresistible manifesto for student rights. Kors and Silverglate show how the cultural left's assault on individual liberties is effectively transforming the academy into 'an island of oppression in a sea of freedom.' Convincingly argued, authoritatively documented in moving human detail, it is a momentous achievement.

-- Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism?


Unlike most critics of political correctness, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate have no political agenda of their own to advance, except the preservation of liberty. They take seriously the obligation to defend the rights of all individuals, adversaries as well as friends. The Shadow University is a scrupulously fair, painstakingly documented account of repression on America's campuses, where students and faculty members are regularly denied fundamental rights of speech, conscience, and due process. I never knew it was quite this bad.

-- Wendy Kaminer, author of It's All The Rage and I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional


Many of America's colleges and universities, including the most prestigious, have largely abandoned a respect for free speech, due process, honesty from on high, and the very concept of intellectual freedom. In The Shadow University, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate have created the most far-ranging and in-depth report on the appalling state of American higher education, and their vivid, specific stories should shame those in charge of shaping the minds and spirits of the next generation.

-- Nat Hentoff, columnist for The Washington Post and The Village Voice and author of Free Speech for Me, But Not for Thee