D'Souza, Dinesh 1961-
D'Souza, Dinesh 1961-
Born April 25, 1961, in Bombay, India; immigrated to United States, 1978; became an American citizen, October 15, 1990; son of Allan L. (an executive) and Margaret (a homemaker) D'Souza; married; wife's name Dixie; children: Danielle. Ethnicity: Asian/Indian. Education: Dartmouth College, A.B., 1983. Politics: Republican. Religion: Roman Catholic.
Dartmouth Review, Hanover, NH, editor, 1982-83; Prospect, Princeton, NJ, editor, 1983-85; Policy Review, Washington, DC, managing editor, 1985-87; worked as an assistant domestic policy advisor in the Ronald Reagan administration, Washington, DC, 1987-88; American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, John M. Olin Fellow; Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA, Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow.
Award from Society for Professional Journalists, 1982, for outstanding reporting.
Falwell: Before the Millennium, Regnery Gateway (Washington, DC), 1985.
The Catholic Classics, introduction by John J. O'Connor and William F. Buckley, Jr., Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, IN), 1986.
My Dear Alex: Letters from the KGB, Regnery Gateway (Washington, DC), 1987.
Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, Free Press (New York, NY), 1991.
The End of Racism: Principles for a Multi-cultural Society, Free Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, Free Press (New York, NY), 1997.
The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence, Free Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Letters to a Young Conservative, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2002.
What's So Great about America, Regnery (Washington, DC), 2002.
What's So Great about Christianity, Regnery (Washington, DC), 2007.
The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.
An abridged version of Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus was recorded on audio cassette and released by Dove Audio, 1991.
Dinesh D'Souza is a conservative who, since the 1980s, has pushed to continue the Reagan Revolution by challenging the nation's social, economic, and political thought. D'Souza's experience in the public policy arena has given him strong conservative credentials.
D'Souza is an immigrant from India. His family was Catholic, so his father, a pharmaceutical company executive, sent him to Jesuit schools. In his final year of high school, D'Souza came to the United States as an exchange student. After graduation, he went to Dartmouth College, where he began to pursue his interest in public policy. In addition to his studies and other campus activities, D'Souza went to work at the Dartmouth Review, a conservative magazine not affiliated with the college; he later became editor. After graduating from Dartmouth, he took the position of editor with Prospect, a magazine published by Princeton alumni. He also began contributing to conservative magazines such as National Review and Policy Review. In 1987, he joined the Reagan administration as an assistant in the domestic policy office.
While pursuing his interests and his career as a journalist, D'Souza began writing longer works on conservative issues. His biography of Jerry Falwell, Falwell: Before the Millennium, examines the life and career of the American fundamentalist preacher and leader of a conservative political lobby. Investigating numerous charges leveled against the minister by the liberal Left, the author argues that many are exaggerations or propaganda; he contends, for example, that accusations of segregation and anti-Semitism belie Falwell's vigorous support of civil rights issues and the perpetuation of Israel. D'Souza also sees the preacher's secular activities as twentieth-century methods to disseminate traditional fundamentalist teachings, disavowing the perceived threat of Falwell's political activism to the Bill of Rights' separation of church and state. "Falwell did what Martin Luther King, William Sloane Coffin, Jesse Jackson, the Berrigans, and thousands of other leftist clergymen had been doing for generations, with liberal benedictions," asserted Joseph Sobran in a National Review summary of D'Souza's position. Falwell, Sobran concluded, "is a ‘menace’ only to liberalism."
Reproaching the publisher of Falwell for presenting it as a "critical biography," New York Times Book Review contributor Marty Zupan found D'Souza's treatment far from "an objective assessment" of Falwell. "Mr. D'Souza might object that he is careful to note Mr. Falwell's failings," wrote the reviewer. "Indeed, he does, and then he generally excuses them…. Meanwhile, Falwell's controversial positions are not discussed." Zupan dismissed the biography as a book "written for the faithful." Sobran, too, noted the volume's "friendly" approach but emphasized instead its factual and informative nature, commenting that the book "is written with unfailing color and energy…. Its main virtue is simply that it brings new information in every paragraph. The details add up to a warm but accurate portrait of the man." In the American Spectator, Malcolm T. Gladwell viewed Falwell as "a case of the right dealing with its own." Yet the critic discounted the publisher's mislabeling, remarking that the book "never pretends to be anything but a defense of Falwell." He added: "To his credit D'Souza treats his subject with grace and thoroughness, and turns what could easily be shrill justification into a genuinely good read. But in the process he steers clear of the implications of Falwell's move into the political arena…. D'Souza doesn't want to believe that Falwell's secular activities have tainted him and pushed him in any way from the traditional fundamentalist pattern."
In Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, D'Souza examines the contemporary American university. The cultural revolution of the 1960s, he observes, has not disappeared from campuses, but rather has become institutionalized as the revolutionary students have become the faculty and administrators of today's academia. Ideas such as affirmative action, a multicultural curriculum, preferential treatment for some groups, and restrictions of speech to protect these groups have come to shape the university. These changes, D'Souza believes, have caused a decline in American higher education. He maintains that the study of classic literature is out, as is Western culture itself. Merit is out, with respect to disciplines, texts, faculty, and students. Instead, all choices are made with an eye to welcoming groups traditionally left out, groups defined by race, gender, and sexual orientation.
D'Souza's conclusions sparked debate among reviewers over the state of the American university, although their evaluations of the book often fell along partisan lines. Charles J. Sykes, writing in the conservative journal National Review, found that "Illiberal Education is both a primer on the breadth of the crisis and a penetrating critique of the fundamental issues that underlie the assault on academic values, free speech, and intellectual integrity in American higher education." Sykes added, "The triumph of Illiberal Education is D'Souza's success in exposing the dishonesty and hypocrisy of what James Coleman has called policies of ‘conspicuous benevolence.’" Catherine R. Stimpson, on the other hand, writing in the liberal magazine the Nation, labeled the book "a document in a political campaign. Like most campaigns, it polarizes reality. The target is higher education." She concluded: "Illiberal Education saturates educational debate with slippery rhetoric, inconsistency and falsehood. Illiberal Education debases thought for a heap of bony power."
The End of Racism: Principles for a Multi-cultural Society gives an outsider's view of racism in America. "Not since Gunnar Myrdal's classic, An American Dilemma, just over half a century ago," wrote Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell in Forbes, "has any book looked so searchingly at the role of race in American society as Dinesh D'Souza's new book, The End of Racism." Peter Brimelow explained in National Review: "By skillfully marshalling facts that are publicly available but rarely brought together in a systematic way, D'Souza argues that the plight of black Americans must be largely attributed to their own dysfunctional culture." To reach this conclusion, D'Souza reexamines the long history of blacks in America, through slavery, segregation, and discrimination. He reevaluates recent events, including the civil rights movement and policy and social trends since. What he finds is both a failure of liberal policies and the dependence on the part of some blacks on these failed policies. Overall, in the opinion of Sean Wilentz in the New Yorker, "D'Souza tells only half the story of our racial travails, and that obliquely. The part that he does describe is the tragedy of modern liberalism, especially that of the Democratic Party…. The other half of the story, the half that D'Souza does not tell, is the tragedy of modern conservatism—especially that of the Republican Party."
As with his previous books, The End of Racism stirred a great deal of discussion. Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom disputed D'Souza's reassessment of the historical record. He contended in the Times Literary Supplement: "D'Souza has had no professional training in history, but that does not stop him from writing a good many pages on the history of slavery and the intellectual origins of racism. He is simply beyond his depth here and never should have made the attempt." Specifically, Thernstrom found that "D'Souza … is naively generous in his assessment of the motivation of the ‘southern ruling elite,’ which he believes favoured segregation because of its commitment to the benevolent ‘code of the Christian and the gentleman.’" He offered stronger words to describe D'Souza's view of recent events. "His analysis is so muddled that it is difficult to criticize," maintained Thernstrom. "He tells us that the notion that ‘the civil rights movement represented a triumph of justice and enlightenment over the forces of Southern racism and hate’ is a mere ‘myth.’"
In the eyes of some reviewers, The End of Racism provides justification for racism. A reviewer for the Economist commented: "This book is a defence of bigotry and prejudice. Its message, crudely put, is that discrimination against blacks in America is not racial but rational—meaning wise in circumstances—and that the disadvantages they suffer are largely their fault." It also overgeneralizes, according to the reviewer: "His whole book is written in the language of blame and in the language of stereotypes. It treats black America as ‘the Other,’ as an undifferentiated statistical mass, as a social ‘dysfunction,’ as a problem." Yet, for Thomas Sowell in Forbes, The End of Racism does not justify racism; rather, it deflates it. As he commented, the book "argues that the explanatory power of racism is very weak when put to the test, and it now serves largely as a distraction from the hard work of dealing with other factors behind very real problems." In the estimation of Peter Brimelow writing for the National Review, "in The End of Racism, D'Souza takes many courageous stands; his book has a powerful major argument and endlessly fascinating detail." He concluded, however, that "it remains ultimately incomplete, in terms both of fact and of theory." Sowell summed up the book in the following terms: "The End of Racism is … a thorough reappraisal of race and racism in America today."
Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader "could be used to illustrate the proposition that biographies come to resemble their subjects," Nicholas Lemann wrote in the Atlantic Monthly. "It is jaunty, spirited, not too hardworking, prone to indignant misrepresentations of the positions of opponents, unable to resist thinking of public life as a series of instructive myths and fables, and finally, somehow, impossible to dislike." In this book, D'Souza draws on his year spent working in the Reagan White House and his friendships with others who worked for or knew Reagan to argue for giving Reagan greater credit for the foreign policy and economic successes achieved on his watch. "D'Souza is convincing on one point," Matthew Dallek conceded in the Washington Monthly: "Reagan was a more sophisticated operator than many critics have acknowledged." Ronald Reagan also provides a useful service in setting Reagan's presidency in its historical context; as James Nuechterlein noted in Commentary, "it is easy to forget how pervasive the notion had become, in the wake of poisonous disagreements over Vietnam, racial disunity, the Watergate scandal, and the stumblings of the [Gerald] Ford and [Jimmy] Carter administrations, that America was essentially ungovernable." "It must be conceded at the outset that, from a strictly scholarly or historical standpoint, this is not a trailblazing book" noted Public Interest interviewer Wilfred M. McClay. "And yet, D'Souza has made an extremely useful contribution not only to our understanding of Ronald Reagan and his presidency but of the American past and present."
In The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence, D'Souza examines the effect that technological progress is having and will have in the future on American society. He outlines the phenomenal economic growth that the United States has experienced since 1980, including a tripling in the gross domestic product and an increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from below 800 in 1982 to over 10,000 when D'Souza was writing his book, and shows how much of this increasing prosperity was due to technological entrepreneurs. However, commented Christianity Today contributor Jeremy Lott, "the thing that makes his book more than an extended puff piece is that he works so hard to give equal time to the technorati's detractors," including those who bemoan increased economic inequality in the United States and worry about the corrosive effects of technology on traditional family and community bonds. In fact, much of The Virtue of Prosperity consists of interviews that D'Souza conducted with those on all sides of the debate over technological progress. "He seeks not so much to understand the culture and belief structure of the technophiles and those who oppose them as to provide an embodiment for various positions," explained Policy Review critic Elizabeth Arens. She continued: "While the interview format is not essential to providing a full and accurate account of the differing positions, it does make for colorful and popularly accessible reading." D'Souza also ponders the effects that technological innovations currently under development, particularly genetic engineering, might have on the future of humanity. He "definitely enjoys the debate and provides a useful service by bringing it to the attention of the general reader," William J. Byron wrote in America, and, as noted by Public Interest reviewer David Skinner, "D'Souza is especially effective at walking the reader through the basic terms of any such controversy. With his grounding in political theory, he is able to bring new information to old arguments with impressive agility."
Letters to a Young Conservative contains thirty-one brief letters aimed at college students. "This is D'Souza at his best—polemical, witty, and rapier-sharp," Sarah Maserati commented in National Review. The letters' titles are humorous—they include "Pig Wresting at Dartmouth," "Speaking as a Former Fetus …," and "Family Values since Oedipus." D'Souza recounts many of the stunts that he pulled as a young Turk at Dartmouth, trying to use what he saw as the absurdity of the school's political correctness against it, and suggests some ideas for similar performances updated for modern issues. "D'Souza will no doubt succeed in inspiring young conservatives to go out into the world and fight for what they believe in," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.
D'Souza wrote What's So Great about America in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, at a time when, as he sees it, many Americans failed to recognize what makes the American way of life great and worth defending from militant Muslims who attacked it. This failure to appreciate the American system resulted in part from the multicultural curriculum that D'Souza decried in Illiberal Education, he explains. "As an immigrant and self-described ‘person of color,’ D'Souza is persuasive in describing the attraction of America to newcomers from all races and cultures," John Fonte commented in National Review. "D'Souza's enthusiasm and love for his country is, more often than not, charming and contagious," wrote a reviewer for First Things. However, D'Souza does not spare his adopted country and Western civilization in general from criticism. One of the most commented-upon chapters in the book was titled "Two Cheers for Colonialism," which acknowledges that the British and other European colonizers of the nineteenth century often treated those they ruled harshly and unfairly even as they introduced beneficial technological and social advances to their colonies. D'Souza also condemns the vulgarity and hedonism that is so prevalent in popular culture and so offensive to conservative Muslims as well as to conservatives of other religions. "To his credit," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic, "D'Souza … lays out his case well."
D'Souza continues to examine the post-9/11 world in The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. The book explains why D'Souza considers American liberals to be heavily responsible for anti-American sentiments abroad, particularly following 9/11, and possibly for the sentiments that actually led to the terrorist attacks. According to D'Souza, the liberal support of certain lifestyles and beliefs that go against religious conservative ideals has undermined American culture and angered fundamentalists who are against women's rights, gay marriage, abortion, divorce, and so on. Vanessa Bush, in a review for Booklist, considered D'Souza's effort "an interesting perspective on the hostilities between the West and the Muslim world." However, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly dubbed the work a "mostly lucid but unconvincing argument" that "trips over its own inconsistencies," and a contributor for Kirkus Reviews referred to it as "ridiculous red-baiting." Scott W. Johnson, in a review for New Criterion, found the book to be "a blinkered and politically correct version of the Muslim world," going on to note: "It is a presentation that the young D'Souza would have scorned."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, March 26, 2001, William J. Byron, review of The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno-Affluence, p. 34.
American Prospect, March 1, 2007, "Al-prospect," p. 6.
American Spectator, January, 1985, Malcolm T. Gladwell, review of Falwell: Before the Millennium.
Atlantic Monthly, April, 1998, Nicholas Lemann, review of Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, pp. 103-108, 110.
Booklist, November 15, 1997, Gilbert Taylor, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 539; April 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of What's So Great about America, p. 1377; January 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, p. 44.
Business Week, November 27, 2000, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 30.
Campaigns & Elections, February 1, 2007, review of The Enemy at Home, p. 62.
Christianity Today, September 3, 2001, Jeremy Lott, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 105.
Christian Science Monitor, November 30, 1987, review of My Dear Alex: Letters from the KGB, p. 20; December 28, 2000, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 16.
Chronicle of Higher Education, December 15, 2006, "From ‘The Enemy at Home,’"; February 9, 2007, "D'Souza's Drubbing."
Commentary, December, 1997, James Nuechterlein, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 58; March, 2001, Eric Cohen, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 68.
Contemporary Review, May, 1998, Richard Thompson, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 268.
Economist, October 14, 1995, review of The End of Racism: Principles for a Multi-cultural Society, p. 101.
First Things, June-July, 2002, review of What's So Great about America, p. 71.
Forbes, October 9, 1995, Thomas Sowell, review of The End of Racism, p. 74.
Futurist, March, 2001, Lane Jennings, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 61.
Historian, fall, 1999, Richard S. Glowaki, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 146.
Indianapolis Business Journal, October 8, 2001, John Mutz, "Is Capitalism to Blame for Terrorism?," p. 17.
Insight on the News, December 18, 2000, Stephen Goode, interview with D'Souza, p. 36; February 19, 2001, Ryan Ellis, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 26; June 10, 2002, Rex Roberts, review of What's So Great about America, p. 31; September 2, 2002, Hans S. Nichols, "How the West Became No. 1: Dinesh D'Souza Defangs the Multiculturalists," p. 27.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of Letters to a Young Conservative, p. 1362; October 15, 2006, review of The Enemy at Home, p. 1053.
Kliatt, September, 2003, Barbara Jo Mckee, review of What's So Great about America, p. 38.
Library Journal, November 1, 1997, Michael A. Genovese, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 102; May 1, 1998, Nann Blaine Hilyard, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 156; November 1, 2000, Richard Drezen, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 93; April 1, 2003, Don Wismer, review of What's So Great about America, p. 149.
Nation, September 30, 1991, Catharine R. Stimpson, review of Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, p. 378; January 5, 1998, Eric Alterman, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 22; February 12, 2001, Eric Alterman, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 10; December 30, 2002, George Packer, review of Letters to a Young Conservative, p. 25.
National Interest, summer, 1999, Kiron K. Skinner, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 136.
National Review, February 22, 1985, Joseph Sobran, review of Falwell, p. 41; November 21, 1986, Thomas P. McDowell, review of The Catholic Classics, p. 67; April 15, 1991, Charles J. Sykes, review of Illiberal Education, p. 49; November 27, 1995, Peter Brimelow, review of The End of Racism, p. 60; October 27, 1997, Matthew Scully, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 52; December 4, 2000, Leslie Lenkowsky, review of The Virtue of Prosperity; June 3, 2002, John Fonte, review of What's So Great about America, p. 47; March 24, 2003, Sarah Maserati, review of Letters to a Young Conservative.
Nature, September 30, 1991, review of Illiberal Education, p. 384.
New Criterion, March 1, 2007, Scott W. Johnson, "D'Souza Goes Native" review of The Enemy at Home, p. 4.
New Leader, December 29, 1997, William L. O'Neill, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 13.
New Republic, April 15, 1991, Eugene D. Genovese, review of Illiberal Education, p. 30.
New Yorker, May 20, 1991, Louis Menand, review of Illiberal Education, p. 101; October 2, 1995, Sean Wilentz, review of The End of Racism, p. 91; September 16, 2002, Louis Menand, review of What's So Great about America.
New York Review of Books, July 18, 1991, C. Vann Woodward, review of Illiberal Education, p. 32.
New York Times Book Review, December 30, 1984, Marty Zupan, review of Falwell; March 31, 1991, Nancy S. Dye, review of Illiberal Education, p. 12; July 7, 2000, Michael Lind, "Their Country 'Tis of Them," p. 11.
Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2001, Robert C. Jeffrey, "Our New Nonpolitical Order: The Eros of Enterprise: An Essay on Dinesh D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity," p. 197; fall, 2003, E. Robert Statham, Jr., review of What's So Great about America, p. 221.
Policy Review, December, 2000, Elizabeth Arens, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 75.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, spring, 1998, Robert Previdi, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 444.
Public Interest, spring, 1998, Wilfred M. McClay, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 122; winter, 2001, David Skinner, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 111.
Publishers Weekly, October 13, 1997, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 68; October 30, 2000, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 58; April 15, 2002, review of What's So Great about America, p. 54; September 30, 2002, review of Letters to a YoungConservative, p. 62; November 27, 2007, review of The Enemy at Home, p. 42.
Reason, February, 1998, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 60.
Time, May 6, 1991, Walter Shapiro, review of Illiberal Education, p. 71.
Times Literary Supplement, May 31, 1991, James Bowman, review of Illiberal Education, p. 7; December 8, 1995, Stephan Thernstrom, review of The End of Racism, p. 4.
Wall Street Journal, March 28, 1991, Diane Ravitch, review of Illiberal Education, p. A12.
Washington Business Journal, January 5, 2001, review of The Virtue of Prosperity, p. 26.
Washington Monthly, March, 1998, Matthew Dallek, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 48.
Washington Post, April 16, 1991, Charles Truehart, "Big Man off Campus," p. B1.
World and I, April, 1998, Lee Edwards, review of Ronald Reagan, p. 265.
Dinesh D'Souza Home Page,http://www.dineshdsouza.com (September 2, 2005).