BY JOHN TURNER
In the most recent Books & Culture, Lauren Winner contributes an eloquent review of our John Fea's The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Winner and Fea (with whom I'm having lunch today) describe the plight of Philip Vickers Fithian's quest to reconcile his love of his native southwest New Jersey with the universal ideals of the Enlightenment. As Winner interprets, many graduate students and faculty in far-flung corners of our land can readily commiserate with Fithian: "Fithian's problem is no less acute today for men and women whose education takes them geographically and imaginatively beyond their local communities." [I wish she'd offered a solution for this. Fea suggests that only his Revolutionary War death (serving universal ideals in his local regiment) allowed Fithian to reconcile these contradictory aims, which doesn't seem like an attractive real-world solution to me].
One non-Religion in American History thought: Perhaps we should elect Treasury Secretaries rather than presidents. The Bush administration, which curiously ended right after the 2004 election, has clearly given way to a temporary Paulson kingship.