This year marks the 20th anniversary of Allan Bloom’s incendiary book The Closing of the American Mind. By some stupendous oversight on the part of the management, I was asked to review the book for The New York Times Book Review. They didn’t make that sort of mistake again, especially after Bloom’s book became a number-one bestseller. In fairness to the Times editors, though, they couldn’t have known that such a peculiar book by a then-obscure professor of philosophy was poised to become important ammunition on (for them) the wrong side of the culture wars. (Nor for that matter could they known that I would do my bit for the cause with books like Tenured Radicals. Indeed, part of the genius of the title of Bloom’s book was its ambiguity. I remember visiting a liberal friend when I was toting around galley’s of the book. “The Closing of the American Mind, eh?” she said. “What’s that about, Reagan’s America?” Well, not quite, Virginia, but you see where she was coming from.
Anyway, the anniversary of Bloom’s book has occasioned a few events and celebrations, including a symposium organized jointly by The Manhattan Institute‘s Center for the American University and The New Criterion. We published a selection of the papers in the November issue of The New Criterion, and if you missed the CSPAN broadcast of the conference itself, you can watch the proceedings here.