I remember the reactions I got my senior year of college when I told people that I would be pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy. My friends wondered aloud if I was smart enough. My family didn’t understand why I wanted to spend so much time and effort on something that, if I found a job, paid so little. Both groups had worries that I would die of boredom. Interestingly enough, these are exactly the three sentiments dubbed “protective myths” in the opening chapter of Pierre van den Berghe’s book Academic Gamesmanship: How to Make a Ph.D. Pay.
If there were universally required reading for anyone entertaining a career in academia van den Berghe’s 1970 work would undoubtedly be at the top of the list. Well, it would be except for one small problem. It’s out of print and if you are lucky enough to find a copy you might pay upwards of $250 (that’s more than $2 per page!) Luckily, Professor van den Berghe agreed to allow TheBestSchools.org to reprint his work so that it can be available for future generations of the academy. He was kind enough to pen a new preface “An Update of Sorts (2015)” which details what he calls, “The most notable trends in the last half century of American academia.”
Professor van den Berghe’s book provides insights that are just as relevant and insightful today as when they were written. As an added bonus, he’s hilarious. His brilliant wit shines through at nearly every turn as he outlines the profession, its pecking order and academic life from the early years through retirement.
As much fun as Academic Gamesmanship is to read, van den Berghe had serious hopes for the profession. He states in the original preface:
“In last analysis, this book is not directed at my peers who are, by and large, beyond redemption, but at the students who will have to decide whether to play the game for what it is worth or to use their creativity to change the rules. My personal hope is that they will help make this book obsolete.”
Over 45 years have passed since first publication and the book is far from obsolete. TheBestSchools.org is proud to have the opportunity to make the book available and has left the original unchanged except for correcting some typos and adding a few editor notes. Enjoy Professor van den Berghe’s writing, learn from his wisdom, change the rules!