When I began listening to this audiobook, I found it compelling and interesting. The people that Johnson discusses are brilliant and flawed, and the movers and shakers of the 19th and 20th centuries, spanning all walks of life and spheres of influence. But after a while, I began to notice the drumbeat Johnson's real message. These intellectuals are not to be trusted; they are predominantly atheists; they are liars and dysfunctional with their families; they are promiscuous and the source of their own miseries. Moreover, once Marx was introduced, almost every single one of them was painted as a Communist Party lackey. The message was clear, and made explicit eventually: public intellectuals should keep their opinions to themselves; they are compulsive liars, even to themselves, poor thinkers, and never, ever to be believed. Once I finished, I looked up the author, and discovered his political leanings really ARE as obvious as you might think: conservative, religious and anti-science. While it was interesting to see what someone from the far right thinks of these giants of their day, I certainly must take everything he says with a large grain of salt. It is a shame really. He made a few good points, but these points are lost in a sea of prejudice. He doesn't even condemn the activities of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee from the 50s. If a reader wishes to make moral judgments of any of the intellectuals here portrayed, their Wikipedia articles do them better justice, and with less obvious preconceptions.
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