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Rhodes Scholars, Oxford, and the Creation of an American Elite

Rhodes Scholars, Oxford, and the Creation of an American Elite

Thomas J. Schaeper | Kathleen Schaeper


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Each year thirty-two seniors at American universities are awarded Rhodes Scholarships, which entitle them to spend two or three years studying at the University of Oxford. The program, founded by the British colonialist and entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes and established in 1903, has become the world's most famous academic scholarship and has brought thousands of young Americans to study in England. Many of these later became national leaders in government, law, education, literature, and other fields. Among them were the politicians J. William Fulbright, Bill Bradley, and Bill Clinton; the public policy analysts Robert Reich and George Stephanopoulos; the writer Robert Penn Warren; the entertainer Kris Kristofferson; and the Supreme Court Justices Byron White and David Souter.

Based on extensive research in published and unpublished documents and on hundreds of interviews, this book traces the history of the program and the stories of many individuals. In addition it addresses a host of questions such as: how important was the Oxford experience for the individual scholars? To what extent has the program created an old-boy (-girl since 1976) network that propels its members to success? How many Rhodes Scholars have cracked under the strain and failed to live up to expectations? How have the Americans coped with life in Oxford and what have they thought of Britain in general? Beyond the history of the program and the individuals involved, this book also offers a valuable examination of the American-British cultural encounter.

Thomas J. Schaeper is Professor of History at St. Bonaventure University, a member of the editorial board of French Historical Studies, and the author of four previous books on European and American history.


"Rhodes Scolars is a choice read for those trying to understand the history of the program."  ·  The Midwest Book Review

"... a very readable book. Personalities and their relationships are vividly described."  ·  American Historical Review

"... Schaeper is to be warmly congratulated ... This is a piece of thorough and careful research, well organized, and a quite fascinating book."  · Contemporary Review

"... a careful and interesting record of a unique and largely successful transatlantic experiment"  · Daily Telegraph London

"... entertaining and informative reading."   · Library Journal

"... a fascinating study based on numerous interviews with former Rhodes scholars and American administrators of the program, and on the memoirs and autobiographies of "Rhodie" alumni ... Produced in a clear, straightforward prose and with a touch of good humor, this book is a pleasure to read."   · Albion

Kathleen Schaeper is a social studies teacher at Allegany-Limestone Central School. For several years they co-directed the St. Bonaventure summer program at Oxford University.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Title Page iii
Copyright Page iv
Table Of Contents v
Abbreviations and Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments viii
Preface xi
Chapter 1. Rhodes, South Africa, and Oxford 1
Chapter 2. Getting Started 21
Chapter 3. The Setting 33
Chapter 4. Yanks and Brits 46
Chapter 5. The Scholar-Athletes 62
Chapter 6. Programmatic Changes 78
Chapter 7. Interwar Years 88
Chapter 8. Interwar Years 113
Chapter 9. Postwar Problems and Adjustments 135
Chapter 10. The Cold War and the Silent Generation 151
Chapter 11. Bill Clinton and Friends 169
Chapter 12. New Voices, New Faces I 219
Chapter 13. New Voices, New Faces II 244
Chapter 14. Careers and Accomplishments 276
Chapter 15. The Oxford Factor 318
Chapter 16. The Rhodes Ahead 343
Appendix. U.S. Rhodes Scholars, 1904-2006* 360
Select Bibliography 397
Index 401