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Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars.

For the average reader Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Loose Canons.' Notes on the Culture Wars is likely to prove engaging and frustrating. Engaging because the 10 essays on the education and miseducation of the American mind are a short course on the evolution of AfricanAmerican literature and its role in our liberation. The frustration comes if you aren't familiar with the oodles of literary and publishing references Gates tosses around so freely. He can exasperate as he seeks to enlighten.

Readers who believe in a multicultural approach to school and college curricula will keep reading. That is what Gates champions, and he wants us to believe that a new curriculum will redeem our nation.

As the author states in his introduction, "Ours is a ... world profoundly fissured by nationality, ethnicity, race, class and gender. And the only way to transcend those divisions--to forge, for once, a civic culture that respects both difference and common-, alities--is through education that seeks to comprehend the diversity of human culture. Beyond the hype and the high-flown rhetoric is a pretty homely truth: There is no tolerance without respect--and no respect without knowledge."

This may go over big with folks who worship the intellect, but for those who don't, Gates' "truth" is but "a tinkling cymbal." For we know that people truly do the right thing by one another only when they have "studied" the tenets of a higher moral law. If Gates has any evidence to the contrary, he ain't telling--at least not in this book.

--Tonya Bolden

Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars by Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, 199pp, $19.95
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Author:Bolden, Tonya
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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