The Bell Curve, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray
Is there anyone left with access to a microphone, television camera, or printing press who has not unburdened himself of an opinion of The Bell Curve? I cannot recall a serious book provoking such a gusher of commentary. It has already been a subject of discussion at a presidential press conference. Pundits have had a field day. Cover stories in news and opinion magazines have featured the book and its authors. Besides the several hundred-thousand copies now circulating, millions more people have seen press accounts of it, some of them incorporating reasonably faithful summaries of what it says.
As any author can attest who has brought forth a book and waited months for even the hometown paper—let alone the New York Times—to review it, the instant celebrity accorded The Bell Curve is astounding, the more so when one hefts this weighty tome and finds it chockablock with charts, graphs, tables, statistical exotica, and technical appendices. Though the authors strove to make it accessible to a general audience as well as to scholars and policy-wonks, this is not a volume that one is apt to read for relaxation. So why has it entered the national consciousness like a noseful of cocaine?
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