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The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton

The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A landmark, revelatory history of admissions from 1900 to today—and how it shaped a nation

The competition for a spot in the Ivy League—widely considered the ticket to success—is fierce and getting fiercer. But the admissions policies of elite universities have long been both tightly controlled and shrouded in secrecy. In The Chosen, the Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel lifts the veil on a century of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. How did the policies of our elite schools evolve? Whom have they let in and why? And what do those policies say about America?

A grand narrative brimming with insights, The Chosen provides a lens through which to examine some of the main events and movements of America in the twentieth century—from immigration restriction and the Great Depression to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the launching of Sputnik, from the Cold War to the triumph of the market ethos.

Many of Karabels findings are astonishing: the admission of blacks into the Ivy League wasnt an idealistic response to the civil rights movement but a fearful reaction to inner-city riots; Yale and Princeton decided to accept women only after realizing that they were losing men to colleges (such as Harvard and Stanford) that had begun accepting “the second sex”; Harvard had a systematic quota on “intellectuals” until quite recently; and discrimination against Asian Americans in the 1980s mirrored the treatment of Jews earlier in the century.

Drawing on decades of meticulous research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of “merit” in college admissions, showing how it shaped—and was shaped by—the country at large. Full of colorful characters, from FDR and Woodrow Wilson to Kingman Brewster and Archibald Cox, The Chosen charts the century-long battle over opportunity—and offers a new and deeply original perspective on American history.

Jerome Karabel is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow of the Longview Institute. An award-winning author, he has written for the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, the Nation, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

“In vivid and electrifying prose, Karabel exposes the intimate and occasionally scandalous social and political relationships that marked college admissions at the Big Three throughout the twentieth century. The Chosen is a refreshingly candid account of the admissions madness at elite colleges, where merit often functioned simply as a handmaiden to power.” — Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor at Harvard Law School and coauthor of The Miners Canary

“Millions of Americans think of the Ivy League as a training ground for the best and brightest. But for most of the twentieth century Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were more interested in sustaining the aristocracy than in shaping the nations intellectual elite. Jerome Karabels marvelous study traces the titanic struggles that defined--and redefined--the Ivy ideal. An utterly absorbing account of politics and privilege on Americas most revered campuses.” — Kevin Boyle, National Book Award-winning author of Arc of Justice

“This is a remarkable book. Until you read it, you can have no real idea how crudely these elite universities discriminated in admissions — against women, Jews, blacks, and others. It is a staggering hidden history.” --Anthony Lewis, former New York Times columnist and author of Gideons Trumpet

“A magisterial and even-handed account of a vexed and important issue.” — Justin Kaplan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain and Walt Whitman

“As someone who was chosen for Princeton a long time ago (but surely couldnt get in now), I was fascinated by Jerome Karabels full and rich account of how my alma mater, and Harvard and Yale, picked us so often for all the wrong reasons. I learned much more about my species from reading The Chosen than everr I did when I was there myself, in flower.” — Frank Deford, NPR commentator and author of The Old Ball Game

"The Chosen is a tour de force of investigative sociology. Burrowing into the Harvard, Yale, and Princeton archives, Karabel has found out where a lot of minds as well as bodies were buried, then exhumed them and dragged them into the light. Anyone who wishes to understand the shifting grounds of the American establishment should read The Chosen, get shocked by the raw bigotries of the past, and accept Karabels challenge to rethink the meritocratic ideal.” — Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology, Columbia University, and author of The Sixties

“This dispassionate book deals with the reluctant, often painful, always controversial, processes by which the Big Three — Harvard, Yale, Princeton — have democratized themselves. The Chosen is a fascinating study in American cultural history." — Arthur Schlesingerr, Jr., historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author ooooof A Thousand Days

Review:

"The emphasis in college applications on balancing grades and extracurricular activities appears benignly positive at first glance. Yet, as Karabel explains, the top Ivy League schools created this formula in the 1920s because they were uncomfortable with the number of Jewish students accepted when applicants were judged solely on their grades. The search for prospective freshmen with 'character' was, with varying explicitness, an effort to maintain the slowly declining Protestant establishment. At one point, Karabel says in this stimulating study of admissions policies, Harvard codified a policy of accepting applicants with weak academic credentials who could better appreciate the school's social opportunities, while Princeton promised to accept any alumnus's son with even the faintest hope of graduation. Karabel, a sociologist who once served on UC-Berkeley's admissions committee, extensively covers the 'Jewish problem' at the Big Three colleges, but also tackles the cultural shifts that lowered the barriers for African-American students and ultimately led to the admission of women. The detailed analysis of the role of university presidents and other campus administrators in first stifling, then abetting ethnic diversity in the student body is so comprehensive, however, that his final remarks on the remaining lack of socioeconomic diversity feel like tacked on." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Drawing on decades of research, Karabel (sociology, U. of California Berkeley) deconstructs the ever-changing definition of "merit" in college admissions, demonstrating how it shaped and was shaped by the country at large. From the anti-Semitism of the 1920s to the debate over affirmative action today, Karabel uncovers many unpleasant surprises about admissions into the universities that function as gatekeepers to success and power in America. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

A landmark work of social and cultural history, The Chosen vividly reveals the changing dynamics of power and privilege in America over the past century. Full of colorful characters (including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, James Bryant Conant, and Kingman Brewster), it shows how the ferocious battles over admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton shaped the American elite and bequeathed to us the peculiar system of college admissions that we have today. From the bitter anti-Semitism of the 1920s to the rise of the “meritocracy” at midcentury to the debate over affirmative action today, Jerome Karabel sheds surprising new light on the main events and social movements of the twentieth century. No one who reads this remarkable book will ever think about college admissions — or America — in the same way again.

Synopsis:

Drawing on decades of research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of "merit" in college admissions, showing how it shaped--and was shaped by--the country at large.

Synopsis:

A landmark, revelatory history of admissions from 1900 to today—and how it shaped a nation

The competition for a spot in the Ivy League—widely considered the ticket to success—is fierce and getting fiercer. But the admissions policies of elite universities have long been both tightly controlled and shrouded in secrecy. In The Chosen, the Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel lifts the veil on a century of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. How did the policies of our elite schools evolve? Whom have they let in and why? And what do those policies say about America?

A grand narrative brimming with insights, The Chosen provides a lens through which to examine some of the main events and movements of America in the twentieth century—from immigration restriction and the Great Depression to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the launching of Sputnik, from the Cold War to the triumph of the market ethos.

Many of Karabels findings are astonishing: the admission of blacks into the Ivy League wasnt an idealistic response to the civil rights movement but a fearful reaction to inner-city riots; Yale and Princeton decided to accept women only after realizing that they were losing men to colleges (such as Harvard and Stanford) that had begun accepting “the second sex”; Harvard had a systematic quota on “intellectuals” until quite recently; and discrimination against Asian Americans in the 1980s mirrored the treatment of Jews earlier in the century.

Drawing on decades of meticulous research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of “merit” in college admissions, showing how it shaped—and was shaped by—the country at large. Full of colorful characters, from FDR and Woodrow Wilson to Kingman Brewster and Archibald Cox, The Chosen charts the century-long battle over opportunity—and offers a new and deeply original perspective on American history.

About the Author

JEROME KARABEL is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow of the Longview Institute, a new progressive think tank. An award-winning scholar, Karabel has appeared on Nightline, Today, and All Things Considered. He has written for the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, the Nation, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction 1

PART I The Origins of Selective Admissions, 1900–1933 1. Elite Education and the Protestant Ethos 13 2. The Big Three Before Selective Admissions 39 3. Harvard and the Battle over Restriction 77 4. The “Jewish Problem” at Yale and Princeton 110 PART II The Struggle over Meritocracy, 1933–1965 5. Harvards Conant: The Man and His Ideals 139 6. The Reality of Admissions Under Conant 166 7. Reluctant Reform Comes to Yale 200 8. Princeton: The Club Expands Its Membership 227 9. Wilbur Bender and His Legacy 248 10. Tradition and Change at Old Nassau 294 11. Yale: From Insularity to Inclusion 321

PART III Inclusion and the Persistence of Privilege, 1965–2005 12. Inky Clark, Kingman Brewster, and the Revolution at Yale 349 13. Racial Conflict and the Incorporation of Blacks 378 14. Coeducation and the Struggle for Gender Equality 410 15. The Alumni Revolt at Yale and Princeton 449 16. Diversity, the Bakke Case, and the Defense of Autonomy 483 17. Money, the Market Ethos, and the Struggle for Position 514 18. The Battle over Merit 536

Notes 559 Selected bibliography 676 Acknowledgments 683 Photo credits 688 Index 689

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618574582
Subtitle:
The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Author:
Karabel, Jerome
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Higher
Subject:
History
Subject:
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Subject:
Universities and colleges
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
October 2005
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pages of b/w photos
Pages:
720
Dimensions:
9.0 x 6.0 in

Related Subjects

Education » Higher Education

The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 720 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618574582 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The emphasis in college applications on balancing grades and extracurricular activities appears benignly positive at first glance. Yet, as Karabel explains, the top Ivy League schools created this formula in the 1920s because they were uncomfortable with the number of Jewish students accepted when applicants were judged solely on their grades. The search for prospective freshmen with 'character' was, with varying explicitness, an effort to maintain the slowly declining Protestant establishment. At one point, Karabel says in this stimulating study of admissions policies, Harvard codified a policy of accepting applicants with weak academic credentials who could better appreciate the school's social opportunities, while Princeton promised to accept any alumnus's son with even the faintest hope of graduation. Karabel, a sociologist who once served on UC-Berkeley's admissions committee, extensively covers the 'Jewish problem' at the Big Three colleges, but also tackles the cultural shifts that lowered the barriers for African-American students and ultimately led to the admission of women. The detailed analysis of the role of university presidents and other campus administrators in first stifling, then abetting ethnic diversity in the student body is so comprehensive, however, that his final remarks on the remaining lack of socioeconomic diversity feel like tacked on." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
A landmark work of social and cultural history, The Chosen vividly reveals the changing dynamics of power and privilege in America over the past century. Full of colorful characters (including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, James Bryant Conant, and Kingman Brewster), it shows how the ferocious battles over admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton shaped the American elite and bequeathed to us the peculiar system of college admissions that we have today. From the bitter anti-Semitism of the 1920s to the rise of the “meritocracy” at midcentury to the debate over affirmative action today, Jerome Karabel sheds surprising new light on the main events and social movements of the twentieth century. No one who reads this remarkable book will ever think about college admissions — or America — in the same way again.
"Synopsis" by , Drawing on decades of research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of "merit" in college admissions, showing how it shaped--and was shaped by--the country at large.
"Synopsis" by ,
A landmark, revelatory history of admissions from 1900 to today—and how it shaped a nation

The competition for a spot in the Ivy League—widely considered the ticket to success—is fierce and getting fiercer. But the admissions policies of elite universities have long been both tightly controlled and shrouded in secrecy. In The Chosen, the Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel lifts the veil on a century of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. How did the policies of our elite schools evolve? Whom have they let in and why? And what do those policies say about America?

A grand narrative brimming with insights, The Chosen provides a lens through which to examine some of the main events and movements of America in the twentieth century—from immigration restriction and the Great Depression to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the launching of Sputnik, from the Cold War to the triumph of the market ethos.

Many of Karabels findings are astonishing: the admission of blacks into the Ivy League wasnt an idealistic response to the civil rights movement but a fearful reaction to inner-city riots; Yale and Princeton decided to accept women only after realizing that they were losing men to colleges (such as Harvard and Stanford) that had begun accepting “the second sex”; Harvard had a systematic quota on “intellectuals” until quite recently; and discrimination against Asian Americans in the 1980s mirrored the treatment of Jews earlier in the century.

Drawing on decades of meticulous research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of “merit” in college admissions, showing how it shaped—and was shaped by—the country at large. Full of colorful characters, from FDR and Woodrow Wilson to Kingman Brewster and Archibald Cox, The Chosen charts the century-long battle over opportunity—and offers a new and deeply original perspective on American history.

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