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"This high-spirited, richly imagined, and brave novel is a delight to read... Smart and hilarious."
Kirkus Reviews


Joyous, fast and funny, Scott Johnston’s Campusland is a satiric howl at today’s elite educational institutions―from safe spaces to tribal infighting to the sheer sanctimony. A wickedly delightful novel that may remind you of Tom Wolfe and David Lodge.

Her room sucks. Her closet isn’t big enough for two weeks’-worth of outfits, much less her new Rag & Bone for fall. And there’s nothing worth posting. Cruel. To Lulu Harris―It Girl-in-the-Making―her first year at the ultra-competitive Ivy-like Devon University is a dreary impediment. If she’s fabulous and no one sees it, what’s the point?

To Eph Russell, who looks and sounds like an avatar of privilege (shh!–he’s anything but) Devon is heaven. All day to think and read and linger over a Welsh rarebit at The Faculty Club, not to mention teach English 240 where he gets to discuss all his 19th Century favorites, like Mark Twain. If Eph could just get tenure, he could stay forever, but there are landmines everywhere.

In his seventh year at Devon, Red Wheeler is the alpha dog on top of Devon’s progressive hierarchy, the most woke guy on campus. But when his position is challenged, Red is forced to take measures.

Before first term is halfway finished, Lulu bungles her social cache with her clubbable upperclass peers, and is forced to reinvent herself. Shedding her designer clothes, she puts on flannel and a brand-new persona: campus victim. For Lulu to claw her way back to the top, she’ll build a pyre and roast anyone in her way.

Presiding over this ferment is Milton Strauss, Devon’s feckless president, who spends his days managing perpetually aggrieved students, scheming administrators, jealous professors, billionaire donors, and bumptious frat boys. He just can’t say yes fast enough. And what to do with Martika Malik-Adams? Isn’t her giant salary as vice-president of Diversity & Inclusion enough?

All paths converge as privileged, marginalized, and radical students form identity alliances, sacrifice education for outrage, and push varied agendas of political correctness that drags every free thought of higher learning into the lower depths of an entitled underclass.

Campusland is a riotous, subversive and fresh read.

Review

"This high-spirited, richly imagined, and brave novel is a delight to read... Trigger warning: it should not be read by those who lack a sense of humor. Smart and hilarious."
Kirkus Reviews

“A blissful read, funny, fresh and frisky.”
― Molly Jong-Fast, author of The Social Climber’s Handbook

"A hilarious sendup of the current college climate."
New York Post

"Standout...Lively...Surprising."
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

SCOTT JOHNSTON grew up in Manhattan and graduated from college in the 1980s. From there, Wall Street (Salomon Brothers of Liar''s Poker fame) and a stint in Hong Kong. On the side, he opened a couple of nightclubs in New York City and wrote popular books on beer drinking and golf betting games. More recently, Johnston shifted gears and co-founded two tech startups. He lives in Westchester with his wife and three children.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

J. E. Duncan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A timely, insightful and hilarious satire.
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2019
If you enjoyed reading Tom Wolfe’s novels, “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “A Man in Full”, or Chris Buckley’s novel, “Thank You For Smoking”, then you’re going to love reading Scott Johnston’s, “Campusland”, a raucous send-up of politically correct Ivy League/elite college... See more
If you enjoyed reading Tom Wolfe’s novels, “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “A Man in Full”, or Chris Buckley’s novel, “Thank You For Smoking”, then you’re going to love reading Scott Johnston’s, “Campusland”, a raucous send-up of politically correct Ivy League/elite college culture. Johnston’s characters are so well rendered you can easily envision them interacting on today’s college campuses. Ostensibly a satire, “Campusland” draws heavily from real world craziness playing out constantly on college campuses throughout the country. The result is an extremely well-written, fast-paced, well-constructed narrative that combines incisive social observation with a literary style that is nothing short of sublime. It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel. I can only hope that Johnston will apply his ample gifts to a future novel—he’s that good, and we need a new Tom Wolfe. The good news is we may have found him!
51 people found this helpful
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RAP
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Back story to this book
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2019
I''m guessing most of those who wrote a one or two star review don''t know why this book was written, so I''ll share a bit of context, based on what I''ve heard. When the author was on campus at an Ivy League university, which I suspect he may know well, he courteously held a... See more
I''m guessing most of those who wrote a one or two star review don''t know why this book was written, so I''ll share a bit of context, based on what I''ve heard. When the author was on campus at an Ivy League university, which I suspect he may know well, he courteously held a door for a current female student, who responded by calling him a "f***ing chauvinist pig." It is my opinion that caused him to think, screw it, if no one else will write a book describing the current toxic and intolerant environment on many, especially the elite, college/university campuses, he would.

I agree this is not a book for those "progressives" who are unwilling/unable to recognize the PC lack of tolerance for those with whom they disagree. It seems to me that Johnston was more than forthcoming with his description on the jacket of the book, so I have to wonder why those folk would buy this book - perhaps only to be able to pen a negative, "verified purchase" review?

However, for those able to see the humor in campuses that provide pets to assuage the emotional damage caused by a US Presidential election that did not go as they wished, this book rates a 12 on a 0 to 10 scale. For me, I found it laugh out loud hilarious. Further, if one can''t enjoy a vignette about a Frat boy who wrote an Art History class paper detailing the range and versatility of the artist "Circa", it seems to me there must be a lot of anger, perhaps irrational, bottled up in inside.

Way to go, Mr. Johnston - superb first offering and hope more follow.
37 people found this helpful
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Joseph P Damore, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Be truthful! If you always tell the truth, you don''t have to remember anything. -Mark Twain
Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2019
As a parent of a college bound freshman, and as a college professor, I found Scott Johnston''s Campusland to be unfailingly truthful, and markedly descriptive of the current sociopolitical climate experienced on most college campuses today. Though it has been many years... See more
As a parent of a college bound freshman, and as a college professor, I found Scott Johnston''s Campusland to be unfailingly truthful, and markedly descriptive of the current sociopolitical climate experienced on most college campuses today. Though it has been many years since I traveled the hallowed halls of collegiate academia as a student, many of the characters, situations, and descriptions of events resonate powerfully with my own experiences as a student. I find myself laughing out loud, and in public, about many such scenes. Overall a very entertaining, honest, and thought provoking commentary about where higher education is these days, and where it seems to be going. My wife and kids will read it as well.
39 people found this helpful
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Rachel S.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic!
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2019
Laugh out loud! Campusland draws you in immediately, and remains a page-turner through its climactic finale. The characters are wildly entertaining. Johnston''s adroit sendup of the absurdity of present day college culture is hilarious. As a parent of soon-to-be college... See more
Laugh out loud! Campusland draws you in immediately, and remains a page-turner through its climactic finale. The characters are wildly entertaining. Johnston''s adroit sendup of the absurdity of present day college culture is hilarious. As a parent of soon-to-be college students, I found the book captivating, eye-opening, and perfectly timely. Gave it to my 17 y/o daughter who became engrossed as well (a first!), and it sparked some great conversations. Heady and riveting, but somehow still feels like a light-read. Highly recommend!
26 people found this helpful
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Robo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A powerfully funny look at campus life
Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2019
A book that will make you laugh, cringe then laugh some more. The funniest situations are the ones that start with truth and are then amplified with humor. The Campusland narrative winds through events that would have been farcical 10 years ago, but today have become... See more
A book that will make you laugh, cringe then laugh some more. The funniest situations are the ones that start with truth and are then amplified with humor. The Campusland narrative winds through events that would have been farcical 10 years ago, but today have become comically (or sadly) true. The book shows how out of whack our world has become without becoming preachy. Johnston has a keen eye for social commentary and humor - everyone will laugh when they read this book. Campusland is a great story that shows the results of self-righteousness run amok.
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KatieK
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Terrifyingly funny!
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2019
Having retired from a progressive service industry, I note the graduates of Devon now populate corporate America. Every character is someone I’ve had to avoid, circumvent, or simply flee. Terrifyingly funny novel!
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Clarissa's Blog
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Realistic and enjoyable
Reviewed in the United States on October 31, 2019
This novel is a satire of wokesterism at Yale, my alma mater. The author is an alumnus, so he knows the campus, the architecture, the weather, the traditions, everything. Anybody who’s been to Yale will chuckle nostalgically when they read this description of the Art &... See more
This novel is a satire of wokesterism at Yale, my alma mater. The author is an alumnus, so he knows the campus, the architecture, the weather, the traditions, everything. Anybody who’s been to Yale will chuckle nostalgically when they read this description of the Art & Architecture building, for example: "The building’s Stalinist slabs of rectilinear concrete, set here among Gothic and Georgian masterpieces, assaulted the eye. Naturally, that was the point… The concrete was cold and would sweat in the warmer months, giving off a dank, musty smell no countermeasures could ever fix. It was an angry, perspiring fortress."
I lived right across the road from the perspiring fortress the whole time I was at Yale, and the description is spot on.

The depictions of the crazy wokesterism that is convulsing academia are really great, too. That’s not surprising, though, because the material is so rich that the novel practically writes itself. The Mattress Girl, the Halloween protests, the “Dear Colleague” letter – you don’t need to invent anything.

What’s interesting, though, is that this accidental novelist managed something that tends to elude male writers in late middle age. He actually created a believable teenage female protagonist. Few things are more awkward and unconvincing than portrayals of teenage girls by older male writers. Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons, one of the worst books I have ever read, is a great example. The reason why older men are so bad at depicting teenage girls is that for these authors the #1 quality of such a character is her extreme vulnerability. Teenagers, though, are physiologically incapable of seeing themselves as vulnerable even when they actually are. They think they are invincible and exercise notoriously poor judgement as a result. We all know this but male writers seem to enter into “protective Grandpa” mode once they hit 50 and start describing teenage girls as scared little flowers cowering with terror in their bedrooms.

Johnston is not a professional writer, so he somehow avoided this curse. His 19-year-old female protagonist is actually believable. And it’s very refreshing finally to read something so realistic.

It’s a very enjoyable novel. Not high art, obviously, but definitely fun, extremely funny, very easy to read, the ridiculing of the rich, spoiled “victims of systemic oppression” is deeply enjoyable.

Highly recommended to people with a sense of humor.
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TB
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Incisive, hilarious, true to life
Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2019
Though a precise, incisive parody of the current campus climate in America, Campusland manages to avoid the typical flaws of satirical fiction. Its characters are multidimensional and well-developed, rather than mere talismans. Johnston''s dialogue is believable and... See more
Though a precise, incisive parody of the current campus climate in America, Campusland manages to avoid the typical flaws of satirical fiction. Its characters are multidimensional and well-developed, rather than mere talismans. Johnston''s dialogue is believable and endlessly funny. Those who have spent time at an American university in the past decade will find this book simultaneously delightful and disturbing.
16 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Jane Wilson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A fine campus novel.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 23, 2021
This book is absolutely hilarious. It skewers just about everything that is PC-ness gone crazy. You might think no author could strike as many targets in a single book, but this author does. If you are a fan of the campus novel, such as Amis, Lodge, or Francine Prose, (all...See more
This book is absolutely hilarious. It skewers just about everything that is PC-ness gone crazy. You might think no author could strike as many targets in a single book, but this author does. If you are a fan of the campus novel, such as Amis, Lodge, or Francine Prose, (all fine literary novels), you''ll love this.
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