William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Égalité devant la mort, 1848, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
—Benedict de Spinoza

We Applaud Ourselves.
—Poster seen in a school entrance hall

Of the many dispiriting statistics cited in William Henry’s brief but important new book, In Defense of Elitism, perhaps the most dispiriting comes from a recent (1992) study by the Department of Education. Based on a survey of more than twenty-six thousand adults, this study...

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