All the things you listed are problems that arise when a person tries to sell a new approach. They get preachy. They make impossible claims. They hard sell, as Timothy would say. And pompous is exactly the right word.
What has REALLY bothered me in all the other TJEd reading I have done, is how much he tries to hard sell getting a liberal arts education at his college. Does he really think I need to get a degree specifically in his college with his mentors in order to teach my children according to his methodology? My master's in history doesn't count? My impressive record at BYU (five years worth of study in four years with a broad range of literature/history/humanities courses) just doesn't live up? My degree and experience in education has no merit. Is he taking crack? (Okay, that last statement came from my having spent time with Amy. She brings that out in me.)
I'm glad I was able to get that off my chest.
Here is what Dad had to say: First, that he would have liked to get all his faculty to read the book because he liked so much of what DeMille had to say, except that the emphasis on homeschooling undermines the books usability in a regular educational setting.
Things Dad liked: the emphasis on reading. Of course, Dad was a TJEd parent long before DeMille showed up on the scene. He liked the broad definition of "classic" and the point that reading is critical to learning. He also liked the emphasis on writing.
What he did not like: the pompous "this will fix everything in education" premise. The idea that education is failing. It isn't. Teachers do an amazing job, and like Kami sort of pointed out--the only thing that is failing is families, and educators can't do anything about that.
Also, my Dad has a strong "How will you use this?" approach to life. He doesn't see the value in reading a bunch of classics if it isn't going to get you where you want to be. Therefore--DeMille needed, in Dad's opinion--to more clearly explain the purpose behind getting a liberal arts education. The whole "leadership crisis" doesn't wash with him (or me, or Kami). Dad is certainly a fan of a liberal arts type education: he likes gym and art and music. He isn't a "reading, writing, arithmetic" kind of guy, but still, unnecessary work is unnecessary work and children who grow up in a good home are successful in whatever educational system they find themselves in. Panaceas have to address the family---not education.
So--Dad liked what Kami and I liked, didn't like what Kami and I didn't like. Hmm.
As for the rest of what Kami said, she really does like lots of DeMille's ideas (that was for Julia, in case you were wondering as she said nothing good about it), but she wasn't as willing to overlook all the ridiculousness in his book as I was.
As I read more of his writing I get more and more annoyed with him, except that his core ideas I totally love and want to implement:
1) let kids play more and stop trying to force them to do academics when they are too young
2) as kids get older give them more responsibility at home and in their education
3) reading, writing, discussing are the best teachers
4) spending lots of quality time with your family is quality socializing
5) thinking about big ideas is FUN!
There you have my "pompous" views!