This book is old news for my regular readers -- we are in decline, our elite are significantly at fault, the abandonment of "soul" is a major cause. The author is not a believer, so his idol is "Great Books" ... Alan Bloom is often mentioned. The author has seen the problem that meaninglessness is a really bad problem, and credentialism is just making it worse. I agree -- we are meant to have a reason to live, a "what is it all for". Meaning matters.
He may have more credibility in the leftish quarters as he is a non-believer (in religion, he believes in "The Great Books") and a Yalie PHD / professor ... he has seen first hand that the elite pipeline isn't even good for the elite, let alone American culture.
"The system manufactures students who are smart, talented, and driven --yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they are doing but with no idea why they are doing it".A quote from a student transferring out of Stanford:"I've seen my peers sacrifice health, relationships, exploration, activities that can't be quantified and are essential for developing souls and hearts, for grades and resume building". From a Yale student:"A friend of mine said it nicely -- I might be miserable, but if I were not miserable, I wouldn't be at Yale".
One of my favorite quotes from the book that reminds me of my IBM career:"It's hard to build your soul when everyone around you is trying to sell theirs". My soul was very screwed up in search of "money, promotion, recognition" while I was at IBM -- with a lot of Grace, I hope some healing is in process ... to the extent it happens, it will be by Grace through the Holy Spirit.
The author likens the assembly line of America's leading sheep to a salmon run. "The key word is "safety". Beneath the other factors - the entitlement, the lack of direction, the desire to not close down options - the force that drives the salmon run is fear."
In this spring of our Corona imprisonment, we see the fruits of the majority sheep flock being "led" by excellent sheep. The sheep-leaders panic and run this way and that as the now apparent puppy of Corona chases them (they were crying WOLF!, a true fear for elderly / infirm). They are driven by FEAR -- "what IF"??? Originally, some fear of over-reacting, followed by a panicked over reaction, now trending toward the cover up for the over reaction and economic damage. Sheep make poor "leaders" ... even "excellent ones".
His hope is "The Great Books", mine is Christ -- and Christ was the hope of the elite up to "God and Man At Yale" -- hope is certainly better than no hope, I prefer hope that has been shown to be valid for over 2K years.