One of the fun things about writing books is that people ask you to write things in their books, usually dedications to somebody to whom they are giving the book as a gift. The most common thing I am asked to write in a book is some variation on “Don’t believe everything your professors tell you when you go off to college next year.” I suspect that this means, among other things, that there are a lot of kids out there getting a copy of Big White Ghetto as a graduation present when they’d been hoping for a car.
There is a great deal of anxiety surrounding college education — anxiety about intellectual openness, political indoctrination, stifling conformism, the petty vindictiveness of “cancel culture,” etc. That is, of course, a longstanding theme here at National Review — Bill Buckley entered public life with a journalistic beatdown of his own alma mater in God and Man at Yale. Unfortunately, things on campus have not improved since 1951 — the opposite, in fact, has been the case.
That is one reason why the National Review Institute has chosen God and Man at Yale as the subject of our first William F. Buckley Jr. essay contest, in which college freshmen and sophomores will read WFB’s first book and apply its insights to contemporary college education. The winning essay will be published here at National Review Online.
Undergraduates interested in a career in writing should give it a shot. National Review has long been a great nurturer of young talent, producing writers you can read everywhere from these pages to the Washington Post and the New York Times. National Review’s bylines have included everyone from Reihan Salam to Joan Didion — the winning essay will be in good company.
You can learn more about the contest here. Entries are due July 31.
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