Harvard Rules

David Carr reviews Harvard Rules: The Struggle for the Soul of the World’s Most Powerful University by Richard Bradley, in the New York Times:

Richard Bradley’s last book, a decidedly unauthorized biography of John F. Kennedy Jr., rode a wave of controversy to become a No. 1 best seller. But that kind of notoriety seemed like a far reach for his new one, “Harvard Rules,” which hits the streets this week. A searing portrait of Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard, it did not seem destined for big sales, in part because while academic politics are most notable for their low stakes, they generally have even lower public appeal.

But last month, Dr. Summers suggested that the low number of women in the sciences had something to do with genetics and gender – insert firestorm here – and suddenly a book that would not seem to have any appeal beyond Harvard Square began to take on national resonance.

Mr. Bradley’s book is landing at the precise moment when Mr. Summer’s difficulties are peaking. For 90 minutes on Tuesday night, more than 250 members of the Harvard faculty confronted Dr. Summers, with a number of them stating that he had besmirched the reputation of the university through a series of intemperate remarks and had wielded his power in unseemly ways. One attendee told The Harvard Crimson that it was “likely” the faculty would give a vote of no confidence for Dr. Summers when they meet in an emergency session Tuesday. The burgeoning crisis nicely dovetailed with the thesis of “Harvard Rules: The Struggle for the Soul of the World’s Most Powerful University” (HarperCollins, $25.95).

More here.