The Star Chamber of Stanford

On the Secret Trial and Invisible Persecution of a Stanford Law Fellow

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
532 Pages
Reviewed on 07/25/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Star Chamber of Stanford: On the Secret Trial and Invisible Persecution of a Stanford Law Fellow is a work of non-fiction in the memoir subgenre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Rony Guldmann. The book is an account of the author's time at law school, investigating the idea that conservative values were being subjugated by the liberals in authority. When the investigation leads to the author being ostracized from the academic community, his motive becomes one of surviving and fighting back against those who marked him as an outsider.

It’s a delicate balance that must be struck in putting forward your version of events when that testimony seems far-fetched and contradictory to the accepted truth of a situation. Fortunately, Rony Guldmann’s legal background leads to him constructing his narrative in a logical and carefully evidenced manner, helping readers to understand that the seemingly incredible suggestions aren’t as far from realistic as they initially appear. It’s a commendable act of bravery to speak up against a large and well-trusted institution to show people that something we all accept at face value should absolutely be challenged and pushed back against.

The Star Chamber of Stanford is an excellent example of such bravery; highlighting the attitudes of the powerful people who determine the direction and culture of academia and questioning whether their actions are in the best interests of the society they serve. Overall, it was a well-constructed discussion of persecution that methodically puts together its message in the face of resistance that is difficult to perceive or fight back against, and I recommend The Star Chamber of Stanford to all those with an interest in academia.

Jamie Michele

Rony Guldmann recounts his time at Stanford and the litany of misconduct in the critical non-fiction memoir The Star Chamber of Stanford: On the Secret Trial and Invisible Persecution of a Stanford Law Fellow. The catalyst behind Guldmann's exposition stems from an earlier academic piece he'd written, Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression, that put him in the cross-hairs of fellow colleagues and Stanford staff. This book is the rejoinder to the barrage of contentious reactions levied against Guldmann and the manifestation of disapproval having a measurable impact on his ability to find later work. Additionally, Guldmann covers correspondence on this and on practices that violate the freedom of privacy that Stanford University claimed to embrace. The accounts are broken down into eleven distinct and interconnected sections and Guldman narrates in a mostly linear timeline, and in the first-person.

The Star Chamber of Stanford by Rony Guldmann will appeal to two different types of readers. The first will be the majority of people who identify politically and ideologically as conservatives. Guldmann fights not only on behalf of himself, his research and his findings, but also for conservatives who believe they have been vilified and marginalized unfairly. The second group that this book will appeal to are people who are interested in an intelligent philosophical perspective that may or may not align with their own, and readers who enjoy real-life David vs Goliath scenarios. The writing is academic and is written in a substance over style manner that is to be expected. All the hallmarks of academia are present. Guldmann's book is planned and focused with a clear understanding of his subject; the book is structured, coherent and logical, and everything he includes is evidenced either verbally or written and included in the text and/or appendixes. Guldmann's courage is apparent, no matter where one lands on the liberal to conservative ideological scale and so I will end this in his own words, which best shows he is aware his neck is in the proverbial noose: “It was publish or perish, and the Great Deed beckoned.”

Asher Syed

The Star Chamber of Stanford: On the Secret Trial and Invisible Persecution of a Stanford Law Fellow by Rony Guldmann is a non-fiction memoir that details the author's experiences as a law student and former fellow who found little support and a lot of reprisals when he published a controversial study. Guldmann's academic article, titled Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression: The Nature and Origins of Conservaphobia, did not align with the liberal philosophy of Stanford University. The result was almost instantaneous hostile blowback that was somewhat ironic as it, in its own way, proved Guldmann's theory: oppression is actually imposed against conservative thinking and not the reverse. The fallout was extreme and as the piece was being written through to its publication and the aftermath, the initially passive-aggressive and ultimately outright undisguised aggressive castigation of Guldmann included but was by no means limited to his girlfriend leaving him, the rumblings of other fellows and staff, calls to “mitigate danger” in order to keep him in contention for the next stage of his academic career, the actualization of this happening due to “stigmatic identity”, and undeniable gaslighting.

"To this end I would need to stir the hornets’ nest and develop a contemporaneous record of my beliefs..."

The Star Chamber of Stanford is at its heart an extension of author Rony Guldmann's Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression. In the interests of full disclosure, I am not just a mere liberal, I am a democratic socialist and the rationale behind Guldmann's research and final conclusion goes against every ethos that I hold dear. I am putting this out to make clear that this review is written by a dissenter of Gulmann's work but as a defender against the deep-seated and, frankly, vile actions against him. The reality is that there is a degree of subjectiveness in what defines persecution and especially when an unpopular point of view is made that costs a highly qualified academic a place in a taxpayer-funded institution. Sure, it was hard to find private placement...but it should not have been hard to find placement in public institutions going strictly by Guldmann's credentials. Academia and advancement in the first world are the hallmarks of a progressive society and I am a little embarrassed that my contemporaries failed the very progress we work toward by disowning an academic who presents verifiable counter-arguments to their thoughts and beliefs. Do I agree with the findings of the original article? I haven't read it so I cannot comment. Do I agree that Guldmann's study means he should be iced out and have to fight his way back in? No. Do I think others should read this book: 100% yes. Very highly recommended.