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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (160 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louis Menand Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Has American higher education become a dinosaur? Why do professors all tend to think alike? What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects should be required? Why do teachers and scholars find it so difficult to transcend the limits of their disciplines? Why, in short, are problems that should be easy for universities to solve so intractable? The answer, Louis Menand argues, is that the institutional structure and the educational philosophy of higher education have remained the same for one hundred years, while faculties and student bodies have radically changed, and technology has drastically transformed the way people produce and disseminate knowledge.

Sparking a long-overdue debate about the future of American education, The Marketplace of Ideas examines what professors and students—and all the rest of us—might be better off without while assessing what is worth saving in our traditional university institutions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Menand…provides a smart, succinct, splendidly written summary of the back story and current state-of-play in education in the liberal arts at the country’s elite institutions.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[Menand] has the rare ability to tackle complex subjects and make them comprehensible and readable.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Part history of higher education, part sympathetic but insistent argument for change, Menand’s book is a worthy and admirably succinct exploration of why colleges are so difficult to improve.”

    Washington Monthly

  • “Michael Prichard’s stern, sonorous voice is a perfect match for Menand’s critical exploration of the contemporary university.”


  • “An important…view on the content of higher education.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Neena | 1/23/2014

    " I was urged to read this before taking another step. Somehow I am still excited to move forward. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alex Bloom | 1/16/2014

    " I guess my expectations were a little too high after having read "The Metaphysical Club." Menand's writing is still brilliant, but the content presented here just wasn't nearly as fascinating as the personalities developed in his earlier work. As always, though, Menand presents insightful and nuanced opinions about complex and divisive subjects. For those interested in the liberal arts in higher education, it's well worth a read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Josh Meares | 1/11/2014

    " Pretty good history of the way things are in academia. Not a lot of insight into what needs to change. Kind of an inside-the-lines sort of thinker. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Villate | 1/2/2014

    " The most interesting parts of this book were the sections on the professions and "interdisciplinarity" (which I run into a lot in my clients' work - it has replaced "post-structualist" as the buzzword du jour in academe) and Part 4 about why professors seem to think the same way. In my work as an editor of dissertations and scholarly articles (with the occasional PhD application essay thrown in there), I hear a lot of horror stories about doctoral candidates forced to stay in their programs for years beyond when they should be finished or just let go from the program. Menand's point about the self-interestedness of departments in keeping ABD's and doctoral candidates going was very well taken, though I disagree that PhDs should be easier to get, having seen the rigor-less pablum that sometimes passes for dissertation research. I have read probably over 100 dissertations in all types of subject matter in the eight years I've been editing professionally, and I would say a good percentage of them (maybe 15-20%) are just trash, but they get passed because the candidate is doing research that his or her advisor is interested in or wants to appropriate for his or her own purposes or that somehow justifies the committee's political or social beliefs. Few solutions are offered, but I think anyone going into a graduate program, whether in the humanities or any of the social or "hard" sciences, would do well to read this little book and think about what he or she hopes to accomplish. "

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About the Author
Author Louis Menand

Louis Menand is most well known for The Metaphysical Club, a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It received a Pulitzer Prize in history in 2002 and also received the 2002 Francis Parkman Prize. Menand is currently a staff writer for the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. He completed his undergraduate work at Pomona and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1980. Currently professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard, he lives between Beacon Hill, Massachusetts, and New York City.