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Brad Baranowski

The Consequences of Merit

Merit: The History of a Founding Ideal from the American Revolution to the Twenty-First Century. By Joseph F. Kett. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. 332 pages. $29.95. Hardcover. Review by Bradley Baranowski As the title of his work indicates, Joseph F. Kett provides a sweeping history of the concept of “merit.” Starting with the American Revolution, Kett traces the various permutations and developments in the idea up to today. Two conceptions of merit bookend his study: essential merit and institutional merit. The former, writes Kett, has rested on “an individual’s visible and notable achievements and/or performances, [and] is most Read more