Essay: Have We Abandoned Excellence?

A new biography of Admiral Hyman Rickover records a Navy captain's assessment: " 'Look around. Do you see excellence anywhere? In medicine? In law? Religion? Anywhere? We have abandoned excellence . . . But Rickover was a genius who gave a generation of naval officers the idea that excellence was the standard.' " Only the nuclear submarines ran on time."

"Abandoned" seems a little strong to describe what we have done to excellence. But of course a note of elegy always haunts discussions of excellence and quality. It is human nature to imagine that...

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