The Battle of Ideas: A Dispatch from the Frontline

Posted by WDonway 2 years, 8 months ago to Books
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The Battle of Ideas: A Dispatch from the Frontline
“The innovative strategy followed in…Retaking College Hill reminds me of the ingenious strategy of the strike by John Galt and his band of ‘men of the mind’ in Atlas Shrugged.”
That is a comment (from a review of Retaking College Hill) that lifts the spirit. Prof. Edward Younkins of Wheeling University, who posted it, is an accomplished scholar of Ayn Rand. His most recent book, Exploring Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand’s Magnum Opus, is the most promising, targeted strategic tool we have for getting Objectivism into the college curriculum. It is reviewed in Savvy Street.
No scholar of Prof. Younkins’s stature, whose book in my experience uniquely comprehends the masterful integration of ideas, characters, incidents, historical context, and wealth of detail in Atlas Shrugged, is at risk of being misunderstood in linking Atlas Shrugged to Retaking College Hill.
Exploring Atlas Shrugged makes clear that the alternate world of Atlas Shrugged can illuminate almost anything—including a few aspects of Retaking College Hill. No one is equating this 2021 novel of the American university as a training camp for “social justice warriors” with the twentieth century classic, Atlas Shrugged.
The characters in Retaking College Hill who band together to oppose domination by postmodernist philosophy, neo-Marxism, and political correctness of the university they love are committed to Ayn Rand’s ideas, or discovering them, or awakening to them. “Even as you and I…”
No, these are not “knock offs” of the irreplicable heroes of Atlas Shrugged. They are me, and perhaps you, at our best: afire with the new knowledge of the power of philosophy to change the world, with the imperative to speak what we know.
Retaking College Hill becomes a thriller--“action-packed” and “suspenseful” as reviews say--because of the resort to character assassination, intimidation, and outright violence now justified by the self-righteous leftists on campus. Musician, writer, and Objectivist scholar Roger Bissell begins his review: “I’ve been ensnared for…decades by special ops and alternate history novels, full of intrigue, sex, and violence. Then along comes this book, with all of those…and ideas!
“You can thank Ayn Rand for that.”
The protagonists of Retaking College Hill intend to wage a battle of ideas, but they find themselves fighting for their reputations, positions at the university, freedom to speak—and their lives. Retaking College Hill is an expose of the violent suppression of dissent on campuses today and a projection of what we see coming.
Jose Antonio Lopez, associate professor at la Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala, writes in his review: “...Retaking College Hill is an open-ended novel. We long for a happy ending, where reason prevails, but that would be naïve. Just as Damian puts it: ‘…if the onslaught here, at this university, is permitted to succeed--an onslaught on what it is to be civilized men of reason and free--then all that the legions of freedom fight and die to defend is gone.’"
Retaking College Hill is the engrossing, constantly surprising story of people—from a college dean to a Navy SEAL to a brilliant and beautiful Israeli girl--who pursue their loves, their ambitions, even as they are drawn into the battle of ideas upon which their future, and ours, depends.
Atlas Shrugged and its philosophical revolution have inspired the work of generations of readers. Retaking College Hill could not have been written without the insights of Ayn Rand.
Perhaps Retaking College Hill will illustrate how Atlas Shrugged, well over half-a-century its publication, still leads the battle of ideas. Today, it is the battle against those who would silence ideas. In prescient essay after essay, such as “The Cashing In: The Student Rebellion,” Ayn Rands told us would be the battles of lifetimes. That essay has had a part in inspiring two of my novels (the other is The Way the Wind Blew, about the ‘Sixties New Left criminality).
Retaking College Hill is another urgent dispatch from the battlefield.


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  • Posted by 2 years, 8 months ago
    For those of you not book authors, you might be baffled by the resistance of people to buy a new book, even one by a writer they like. And one described by reviewers as an exciting new tool in the battle of ideas that few of us can affect directly: the philosophical (and now increasingly violent) war for domination of U.S. colleges and universities. If people are stirred daily by manifestations of neo-Marxism, why not invest $4.99 in what reviewers (24 and counting) uniformly identify as a powerful novel of ideas that both entertains and explains, moves the heart and exposes malicious ideas? Afraid of taking on the reading of a whole book in this age of posts?
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    • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 years, 8 months ago
      I believe most new hardbacks cost more than that; my policy has been to go to the library. Of course, there's the possibility of waiting till the book comes out in hardback.
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    • Posted by $ blarman 2 years, 8 months ago
      My wife had just gotten back from taking my kids to the library to get some read, hard-cover books and had startled me by telling me that when they returned home, they had curled up on the couches to read instead of fighting over the computers as normal. Candidly, I was dumbfounded, but pleased. I grew up as a teen-ager literally (see that pun there) reading every sci-fi/fantasy book in the school library. I even stayed up one time and read "The Hobbit" followed by "The Lord of the Rings" in 24 hours over Thanksgiving break. Now I do a movie-marathon of the Peter Jackson films instead - extended edition. ;)

      My wife and I were actually talking about J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" last night along with "Dune" by Frank Herbert (due to the new movie). We actually found it quite interesting that Tolkien's publishers told him that the general public would never read a book as long as "The Lord of the Rings" so they had him split it up into three books. He never split "The Hobbit" despite the fact that it is nearly as long. And those were published before the Internet and TV really took over the nightly activities. Now we have fewer people reading, but those who do - especially sci-fi/fantasy fans like me - aren't afraid of the epic fantasy novel. Authors like Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson have made 800- and thousand-page books a signal of deep, intriguing world-building and complex plots.

      I salute those who publish and those who read! There are too few of us!
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  • Posted by 2 years, 8 months ago
    I used the East Hampton Library, which is outstandingly well-endowed, all the time before the COVID-19 lockdown. There are always hundreds of books being given away free because no longer wanted or because people bring in books to give away. Day after day. My books on Amazon are eBooks or paperbacks. It seems a lot of people here, or of like mind, are boycotting Amazon. Too bad for me-- and for a book that I think is unique in being a thriller that presents Objectivism as the way to fight disastrous trends in U.S. higher education. If it gets some momentum, it will be a great way to engage students what in happening. I have a hard time believing that Objectivists don't care. "Retaking College Hill" has been compared to "Atlas Shrugged" (in approach and ideas, not quality, of course) by several reviewers including Prof. Edward Younkins, author of "Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand's Magnum Opus"--a work telling faculty members how "Atlas Shrugged" can be a unique asset in their courses. I find it hard to understand why Objectivists don't care if this book reaches a wider public. But I am learning. If you disapprove of Amazon, remember that no literary agent would touch this book and it never would have been published without a platform like Amazon.
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  • Posted by 2 years, 8 months ago
    Authors don't gain many sales by insulting readers.
    If this sounds that way, it is not.
    But I think many of those very active on Facebook in supporting Objectivist posts of every kind (Savvy Street, and I, SURE appreciate them), are satisfied to be intellectual "light weights" in Objectivism.
    Was that the insult. I don't think so. I am a lightweight in their professional field.
    I am today a professional intellectual and writer who has no other pressing demands on my time. I can do what it takes to bring together research, experience, analysis, and long experience in novel writing to create "Retaking College Hill."
    I was a student at the kind of Ivy League university of which I write. I have been working with universities all my life: an administrator (Brown), a foundation program officer in education, and a fundraiser for major universities here and abroad. I have spent decades studying Objectivism and writing about it. I am an experienced novelist in the Romanticist tradition.
    Tell me: when will this concatenation of experiences come together again to create an impassioned novel of ideas, which is also a thriller, to expose the peril of U.S. higher education--and the ideas and perhaps the strategy that would be deliverance?
    Yeah, be great if it broke out of the ghetto of so many works critical of postmodernism, neo-Marxism, and the politically correct. Actually came to the attention of students, parents, faculty, and the media. Who then would be forced to deal with it.
    Yeah, that would be great. Oh, have you bought a copy? Well, no... But I hope somebody does.
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