Books: Schools for Scandal and Virtue

THE OLD SCHOOL TIE by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy; Viking; 480 pages; $17.95

Those who know that English public schools are in fact private may go to the head of the class. You are clearly ready for a longer lesson in paradox. Open your copies of The Old School Tie and begin studying a system of education that has been bullying and beloved, tyrannical and anarchic, rigorous and howlingly inept. Memorize the ways in which a relatively insignificant number of masters and students created an ethos that spread, via the British Empire, worldwide. Questions will be asked later, and laggards can expect a caning.

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