TEN years ago Christina Hoff Sommers, the author of this month's cover story, "The War Against Boys," was quietly teaching philosophy courses at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and writing occasional tart essays about feminist disingenuousness and other matters. She sent one of those essays to The Atlantic Monthly, where it was read by an editor who recognized her, by name, as the editor of a textbook he'd been using to teach an ethics class -- Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life.
They met for lunch and agreed shortly thereafter that she would write an article for The Atlantic about the range and impact of campus feminism and the misrepresentations that, arguably, it made. When the manuscript arrived, it was quite long and a bit untidy, in part because its ambitiousness seemed hard to contain at magazine length. In the end Sommers expanded the manuscript into Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (1994). The book was an immediate success. Unsurprisingly, it made Sommers a target of intense hostility at feminist and other academic gatherings.
It also brought an invitation from the American Enterprise Institute, where Sommers is now the W. H. Brady Fellow, and where she has been working for the past three years on her book The War Against Boys (to be published in July by Simon & Schuster), from which our cover story is drawn. Sommers is a commentator of some prominence on subjects such as moral education in the schools and the feminist impact on American culture. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband, Fred Sommers, who taught philosophy at Brandeis University from 1964 to 1994. They have two sons.
Sommers's reporting is unsparing and absorbing, her attention to factual detail scrupulous. Her re-examination of widely accepted assumptions about how boys and girls are educated in contemporary America will surprise, perhaps even astonish, many readers.
We are delighted to report that with this issue James Fallows rejoins the magazine's staff, as national correspondent. Fallows was The Atlantic's Washington editor from 1979 to 1996, and since then has worked as a newsmagazine editor, a software designer, and a writer for various magazines.
-- THE EDITORS
Photograph by Joyce Ravid.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 2000; 77 North Washington Street - 00.05; Volume 285, No. 5; page 6.