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Review Essay: MeritA Fundamental Ideal Worth Recovering

Timothy J. Barnett


We live in times of great conflict about our national ideals. Some Americans want to retain traditional ideals; others desire to chart a radically different course. Joseph F. Kett, the James Madison Professor of History at the University of Virginia, challenges the confusion of the times with his new book, Merit: The History of a Founding Ideal from the American Revolution to the 21st Century. Working primarily within the landscape of higher education and public administration, Kett provides a wealth of insight about the early development and recent decline of merit as one of the nations primary ideals. If Americas future is to brighten, the American people must better understand the important role merit has played in the countrys development and success. Although it is not a roadmap for renewal, Ketts book, by highlighting the benefits of meritocracy, points us in the right direction.

Timothy J. Barnett, "Review Essay: MeritA Fundamental Ideal Worth Recovering," Journal of Markets & Morality 16, no. 2 (Fall 2013): 587-592

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