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Intellectuals and Society

Intellectuals and Society

4.3 31
by Thomas Sowell, Tom Weiner (Read by)

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This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop, on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace.

The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is that the influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form


This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop, on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace.

The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is that the influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted to directly influence rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored by intellectuals. Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those intellectuals.

Intellectuals and Society not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. One of the most surprising aspects of this study is how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society—and how little their views have changed in response to empirical evidence of the disasters entailed by those views.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

National Review Online
“Sowell takes aim at the class of people who influence our public debate, institutions, and policy. Few of Sowell’s targets are left standing at the end, and those who are stagger back to their corner, bloody and bruised.”

Washington Times
“Mr. Sowell builds a devastating case against the leftist antiwar political and intellectual establishment."

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 10 CDs, 12 hrs 30 min
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst, and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals and in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, and Fortune, and he writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

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Intellectuals and Society 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
statomattic More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book. Sowell details the machinations of intellectuals (using the definition of people for which the end product of their work is ideas rather than anything intangible) in excellent detail, and shows throughout history how the intellectuals have more often than not reached conclusions that have been catastrophically wrong - even leading to war. He posits that, essentially, this is because in order to convert their "special" knowledge into practice, they must necessarily step outside of their realm of true expertise. There's really much more to it than that oversimplification, but you need to read the book to see what I mean. This is the first book by Sowell I have read, and I will undoubtedly be reading more. It's occasionally funny, often frightening, always brilliantly reasoned and right on the mark. Reading this book is like taking an entire semester's class with the smartest professor you ever had in college, except this professor is one of those rogue conservatives who somehow got hired to teach young minds, defying the usual views on campus. Fascinating, terrific, five stars without hesitation. Just read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone that takes themselves seriously, this book is a must. It speaks to all levels of education and all layers of society and race. It certainly helps shake free the messages that have become rooted in our brains from the educational, political and media drumbeat of our times. Decisions by intellectuals with no " real life" understanding, have always and continue to, create havoc in society. This book is a voice of reason in the wilderness of modern times awash in conventional wisdom. Well written and well researched.
S_A_Hamilton More than 1 year ago
Thomas Sowell has done it again. In this well researched book he shows 'intellectuals' for what they are and have been...false polymaths. The clarity of this book makes it an interesting, enjoyable and enlightening read for anybody. Its research and scholarly nature makes it great for those who wish to put such information to use in their professional life. My hope is that many of the modern intellectuals who take a huge part in shaping our society and nudging policy, while suffering no consequences for the disasters and consequences that result from such, will read this as well. Thomas Sowell has the mirror now intellectuals just need to peer into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ubtaught More than 1 year ago
Excellent. I have only just begun researching the many quotes and suggested readings Sowell provides. This books is an excellent example of the difference between 'right wing' writers who deliver facts and opinion in separate dishes, explain where their opinions come from and why and 'left wing' writers who seem to depend on an audience who already 'knows' what they mean when they use certain key words and phrases. This books delivers the dirt on what I have noted in college and in the teaching profession and it does it in a way that doesn't need ad hominem attacks, clever jabs with blunt instruments and knowing winks and jarring nudges. Sowell gives you the tools to make your own opinion and THAT is what I want in a book like this. Excellent addition to ANY personal library right alongside Glenn Beck's Arguing with Idiots, Dianna West's The Death of the Grownup and Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book opens with these four words, which many in today's culture have failed to realize. "George Orwell said that some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, for no ordinary man could be such a fool." Intellectuals live in a world of ideas. Many of their "ideas" find their way into mainstream life via academia, print, or wielders of power who share their circle of influence. The danger here is that these ideas are often acted upon with no empirical test or external validation. A great read for anyone interested in how so called "intellectuals" have shaped history for better or more commonly for worse.
Online_Adjunct More than 1 year ago
This has become my new favorite book. Dr. Sowell is a first-rate intellectual, so he knows what he is talking about when criticizing the intellectual establishment for applying logic to untested and unwise assumptions to reach dangerous conclusions which it sells to the public and to politicians. Particularly interesting is his criticism of attitudes of the progressives on races which switched radically to certain minorities being genetically inferior at the beginning of the twentieth century to being victims who have no responsibility for the consequences of their actions and their culture today. I am recommending this book to friends, relatives and anyone else who wants to understand the source of many of the current economic and political problems.
anapas More than 1 year ago
Sowell, being an intellectual himself, looks inward at the weaknesses and falacy of allowing the intellectual to have undue influence in sociey. His exhaustive research proves time and again his points are 100% accurate, that intellectuals are more than happy to go outside their area of expertise and claim to be experts in areas in which they are clueless. Sowell is one of my favorite authors but even he has outdone himself with Intellectuals and Society. His examination of the European intellectual and the grief caused by their influence is particularly pointed. He goes on to explain the Obama regiems' reliance upon these very flawed minds. It's a great and informative read for all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Sowell's thoughts on the influence of certain segments of society on the current state of affairs in our country are enlightening, to say the least. He has analyzed deeply and applied common sense to his conclusions. This book is highly recommended.
fntb1642 More than 1 year ago
Dr. Sowell is without doubt one of the Country's leading Conservative thinkers. Each one of his books is treasure of thought provoking, educational information.
BullwinkleNC More than 1 year ago
Dr. Sowell makes understanding many important economic topics and other complex issues so easy to understand. He is an easy read on complex technical topics if your concentrate and think about what he is saying! This book is must for my library and was just updated. I read and studied a few issues so far. His communication is about serious and complex important issues for our country. He, however, presents these in an easy to read, follow, and understand manner, with great flow. He also relates and ties everything in making easy to follow and understand. This book is a great addition to my library. It is an excellent reference book on many serious topics. I highly recommend this book and others, such as Economic Facts and Fallacies and Ever Wonder Why. Highly recommended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ties in well how and why both major political parties have become dominated by their wings and not their centrists. For those interested, I recommend Brion McClanahan's "Founders' Guide to the Constitution" & my own "The Albany Plan Re-Visited".
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