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8

FRIDAY

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A Harvard diploma provided a lot of perks for Ross Gregory Douthat, not the least of which was a $120,000 advance from Hyperion to rag on his alma mater. In Privilege, a 20-something memoir about his undergrad years, Douthat contends that packs of blue bloods still hold court in the university’s exclusive “final clubs,” and that the noble ideal of liberal-arts education is simultaneously threatened by ruthless careerism and overspecialization. The backbone of Douthat’s cultural critique is his own college experiences with race, class, liberalism, and dorm sex, though he’s remarkably curt on the last subject: If the Catholic conservative’s conquests ever advanced beyond a less-than-passionate encounter with a “girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon,” he never lets on. For all Harvard’s shortcomings, however, Douthat still cherishes its Platonic form, “as if around another corner, through another ivied gate, there waits the university of our imagination, the Harvard of our unrequited dreams.” Douthat reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jeff Horwitz)