When Jason Goetz graduated from high school, no one—including Jason himself—could have predicted the career path he has since taken.
He matriculated at the University of California’s main campus in Berkeley, expecting to do something in mathematics or business. But Berkeley proved to be a poor fit for him, both academically and socially, and he left before completing his second year. He spent a short time at a community college, and then attended Cal State University—Northridge, from which he earned his Bachelor’s degree.
But if Jason’s experience of college at Berkeley was unsatisfactory, neither community college nor Northridge was any better. He earned his sheepskin, alright, but came away thoroughly disgusted with American education as he had experienced it. He didn’t just complain to family and friends, however—at the age of 22, he wrote and published his first book—The Bubble Boys. It is an unabashed indictment of virtually the whole United States educational establishment, from administrators to faculty to students.
In the mean time, his grandfather gave Jason a set of the Great Books of the Western World—and he embarked on the project of reading them all! From this disciplined reading of the classics grew his second book—The Decline of the Epic? This is a remarkable, thoughtful, provocative study which should be read by every student of literature—it’s that good, light years better in every way from his earlier work.
However, Jason has not stopped to rest on his laurels. He began writing, and continues to write, his excellent weekly essays, many of them on the Greek and Roman classics, others on more recent subjects such as the plays of Shakespeare and the essays of Francis Bacon. And only Jason, of all the authors with whom I am familiar, could have written his recent piece relating the works of Herodotus, the Greek historian, to the words of Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster now nearing his 64th season as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In short, Jason Goetz, the autodidact, has not only indicted American education—he has done something about it. He has personally enhanced American learning with works such as you will find in this book.
I am quite aware that I am lauding a writer who is as yet little known. I am doing so because I am confident that in a relatively short time, the name of Jason Goetz will be recognized as that of a critic who did more than criticize—he will have changed people’s thinking, and in so doing will have changed their lives.
BA 1962, JD 1964 University of Chicago
MA 1967 (American History) University of Wisconsin Madison
Retired High School Teacher, Concord High School, Santa Monica, CA
Retired Radio Talk Show Host, 38 years on the Air, in Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Madison
Author of America By Train and Ira Fistell’s Mark Twain