A memoir told through the lens of the author’s Ivy League (mis)education as he moved from a midwestern high school to Princeton University to Oxford to Vanity Fair working under then-editor Tina Brown. It’s the story, simply put, of what he learned – not from childhood psychological traumas, not from bouts with the bottle and the like, but from instructors, schools, and fellow students as he pursued that seemingly most ordinary yet strangely mysterious enterprise: obtaining an education and absorbing all that it conveyed about achievement, social class, ambition and the meaning of getting ahead.


Walter Kirn is the critically acclaimed author of the novels THE UNBINDING, SHE NEEDED ME, THUMBSUCKER, which was made into a film in 2005 starring Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton, and UP IN THE AIR, which was made into a film starring George Clooney. He is a contributing editor to Time and GQ and a regular reviewer for The New York Times Book Review. Portions of his previous novels have been excerpted in the New Yorker, GQ, and Esquire.