“What have we done to them?” This curious opening line comes from Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation Grows Up, an updated assessment of the cohort he branded The Dumbest Generation (2008). Bauerlein criticized the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) for texting too much and reading too little. “It was obvious to me,” wrote the Emory University English professor emeritus and First Things senior editor, “that a twenty-first-century teenager who didn’t read books or magazines or newspapers, who had no religion and ignored history, civics, and great art, would grow into an unsatisfied and confused adult.” And, indeed, the adolescent Millennials Bauerlein described 14 years ago are now 20- and 30-somethings, edging into middle age while suffering, according to some research, from anxiety, depression, loneliness, and even deaths of despair.

But Bauerlein pivots in his new book. Upon re-examining Millennials’ circumstances, he wants readers to know it wasn’t their fault. Rather, the Digital Age killed Millennials’ reading habits and their postmodernist mentors cut them off from the inheritance of Western civilization, leaving them ill-equipped to handle life’s problems and susceptible to utopian expectations. They were set up to fail. Contrary to what they had been led to expect, discrimination didn’t end

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