Every once in a while an intelligent and educated person who has produced a body of work worthy of the attention of his fellow man is struck by a sudden and lamentable attack of intellectual megalomania. Having learned from friends and reviewers that he is a man of taste, discrimination, and refinement, he falls victim to a peculiar sort of hubris which convinces him that he is (or ought to be) the Tyrant of Taste, the Despot of Discrimination, and the Rajah of Refinement—in fact, the Grand Panjandrum of Intellectual Snobbery.

This unhappy fate has befallen Paul Fussell, Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and author of many books, including The Great War and Modern Memory (1975). In his latest book, BAD,or, The Dumbing of America,[1] Professor Fussell takes up where he left off in his previous excursion into matters of...


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