Old School: Life in the Sane Lane by Bill O’Reilly and Bruce Feirstein
One of my professors used to tell the class a story of one of his friends from when he was in college. Apparently this friend used to sleep with his head on the desk through every class. A couple weeks before finals the friend woke up in the middle of class and asked, “Where do I get a textbook?”
My professor, an austere man, said he just looked at his friend and thought, “Wow, life’s 2 x 4 is coming your way.”
That’s basically the theme of old school. People with a practical, self-reliant, life isn’t fair philosophy versus those who see themselves as victims, are always looking to be offended, and expect someone to make life safe for them. Those who have an Old School philosophy (not religion, politics, or generation) versus those who are “Snowflakes” and particularly the universities who coddle, encourage, and possibly created this philosophy.
So I guess I’m a millennial myself. But I’m about 10 years out of college. And based on the 2×4 story, I don’t think I went to a college that exactly coddled its students.
Old School is categorized as a Current Affairs book according to its back over. I would put it one part culture, particular today’s culture in colleges versus how the authors were raised, one part autobiography, and one part humor. It’s a lot going on in a fairly short book.
The semi-autobiographically part is about the authors’ Old School upbringings in the 50s and 60s. Bill O’Reilly is a news analyst and author who grew up and lives on Long Island. Bruce Feirstein grew up in New Jersey but later moved to LA and became a screenwriter (of the 90s James Bond movies) as well as an author. The book also highlights the stories of other old school people such as Chris Kyle and Tina Turner as well as the ultimate snowflake, President Martin VanBuren.
It’s really funny, hysterically funny at times. Part of the humor comes from the authors’ lives and their parents’ philosophy in raising children. The rest of it comes from how crazy some colleges have gotten, with lots of parodies of what it’s like to go to Snowflake U or work in a company run by Snowflakes.
It could probably be a beach read albeit one that makes you thinks. It’s kind of like the man on the street interviews where the reporter (or Jay Leno) asks the person when the Civil War was and the person says “the 80s?” And then the reporter asks who were we fighting, and the person says, “France.” You’re laughing so hard and then you realize how sad it is that someone made it through our education system without remembering that the fight for slavery happened in the 1860s and the US fought itself: the North against the South. (Yes, I’m slipping in a little bit of facts just in case.)
I really liked this book, it was entertaining, it was funny, but it was also informative and had a lot of good advice. I think it’s useful to know how a successful person became successful, among other things. The only things I didn’t like about it was that I thought it was a little bit too short. It has a lot going on and maybe lacks a little bit of cohesiveness. Also, it came up just before O’Reilly parted ways with Fox News, so some of the references to his previous show are ironically a little dated. It was told back and forth from O’Reilly and Feirstein’s perspective. That got a little confusing but it overall worked. It’s a very good read!