'Closing of the American Mind' author dies at 62 Allan Bloom won 2 major awards with 1987 book.

October 08, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Allan Bloom, the University of Chicago professor who wrote the highly acclaimed 1987 book "The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students," has died.

Dr. Bloom, who was 62, died yesterday at the university's Bernard Mitchell Hospital. The cause of death, according to school officials, was peptic ulcer bleeding, complicated by liver failure.

His friend Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning author, said of him: "Allan Bloom was a true teacher, by which I mean he believed it to be monstrous that any of us should lose our souls through ignorance. He respected, encouraged and loved people who were willing to make a fight for real order in their lives. He had the stature everyone hopes for, looks for and talks about. His students and his friends were quick to see how exceptional a man this was. I admired and loved him."

His book on education skyrocketed to the forefront of the education scene. Chicago Tribune critic John Blades called it a "best-selling jeremiad on liberal education and popular culture."

The book takes an almost jackhammer approach to excoriating modern higher education and culture, using a mixture of statistics and personal observations to conclude that the problems lie with "cultural relativism," misguided curriculum, rock music, TV and academic elitism. College students and graduates, he argued, are poorly educated and spiritually impoverished.

His book sold more than a million copies and helped him win the 1992 Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the 1987 Jean Jacques Rousseau Prize at the International Book Fair in Geneva.

Surprised by the book's success, Dr. Bloom told the Tribune: "I didn't write it to be a popular book, absolutely not. It's caught on for what it is, a serious work."

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