The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment By Geoffrey Kabaservice (Henry Holt, 573 pp., $30) The commitment of America's great universities to admitting students on the basis of merit rather than lineage--whether or not that commitment is wholly observed in practice--is today virtually uncontested. Similarly, the belief in the value of diversity, while under assault in courts and legislatures, is a core conviction of almost all educators.
It has become fashionable among scholars, retired public officials, and politicians to admit that our involvement in Vietnam has not been a success. It has also become fashionable to turn from this admission of failure to the post-Vietnam future without pausing to ask what accounts for that failure. It is more important, so it is argued, to end the war than to discover what led us into it. To bury the past and get ready for the future is taken as a manifestation of both positive and patriotic thinking.