Julie Reuben, a preeminent historian of higher education at Harvard University, has recently published a review of Charles Dorn’s book, For the Common Good: A New History of Higher Education in America, in The Journal of American History.
Reuben praises Dorn’s historical overview of American higher education, noting it diverges from other histories in “several advantageous ways.” She writes, for one, that Dorn, an education professor, does not just focus on a few elite institutions, but rather looks at a broad range of schools, including public, private, parochial, and single-sex institutions. Dorn’s “innovative approach,” of using institutional case studies enriched with contextual material, combined with his “crisp and clear prose,” helps to make the work accessible to many readers, she asserts.
Reuben closes her review with this observation: “Dorn’s book is a gift to us. It is a model for combining analytical breadth and complexity and of using the particular to illuminate the general. It is now the best single-volume history of American higher education available.”