This book does not disappoint a long-time Haidt fan. His arguments continue to be exquisitely measured and explained to appeal to any reasonable person willing to listen. He does not suffer for collaborating with co-author Lukianoff, either, who seems to have the same style.
The title makes it sound like it is going to be a conservative or curmudgeonly rant – “coddle” is such a smug and “when I was your age” kind of verb. But you can trust Haidt. He’s very sympathetic, for example, to what even the most strident and intolerant protesters may be trying to achieve; he’s just pointing out, clearly and convincingly in my opinion, how they are harming their cause more than helping. That is one major area covered in the book – college protest; and although I was familiar with many of the cases described here, such as Charles Murray’s appearance in Middlebury in my home state of Vermont, I had no idea of the extent of some of the other things going on in the rest of the country, like the truly anarchic takeover of Evergreen College in Washington state. Again, don’t think this is just some conservative outrage-generating listing of cases where those liberal students went too far in their political correctness. There are some eyebrow-raising incidents described here, but the authors aren’t out simply to raise ire about them; but to explain where they feel things went wrong.
Another subject covered in the book is the overprotectiveness of parents in our modern culture, and effects of excessive screen time on kids; they authors see these as roots of the excessive fragility of the younger generation of today’s adults.
The authors hold up cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a proven successful method of dealing with depression and anxiety, and use its tenets as models of how we SHOULD be raising children and encouraging young people to deal effectively with their feelings of fragility.
Major fault: I don’t understand why they felt they had to end every chapter with a summary – and then end the book with an overall summary, as well! For Pete’s sake, have a little faith that I know what I just read.
The only other fault was really just a personal disappointment that there was a lot in it about raising children, and the rest was almost all about college students – I guess if I had read the description I would have been more prepared; but I selfishly wanted more things to apply to my own life.