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Intellectuals and Society Audiobook

Intellectuals and Society

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Thomas Sowell; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (409 )
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4.3 (241 )
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  •  
    S. Budke CA USA 12-09-11
    S. Budke CA USA 12-09-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book is a rightwing rant"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book would be the unintelligent, Ditto heads and people who believe anything on Fox news.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Thomas Sowell again?

    No


    How could the performance have been better?

    Absolutely, the reading is horrible.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    He makes good points about not trusting the common wisdom and to verify the source of conventional thought.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is merely a rant by a rightwing biased intellectual.

    He makes good points about not trusting the common wisdom and to verify the source of conventional thought. Unfortunately the Author fails to apply those standards to his own work. Maybe the physical book as end notes but as an audio book it isn’t possible to verify his assertions.

    The reading is horrible.

    8 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 07-10-10
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 07-10-10 Member Since 2009

    I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes.

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    "Should Be Required Reading"

    Thomas Sowell is one of America's greatest thinkers and this book is a great achievement. Sowell makes the case that, throughout history, we have been led into disaster again and again by intellectuals who think that they know everything. Sowell makes the point that the smartest person in the world can know only a fraction of what there is to know about everything. Yet intellectuals believe that because of their ability to know one subject and their ability grasp basic concepts in others, combined with their "verbal virtuosity" (their ability to communicate in a glib manner better than those who really are experts about particular subjects), they should be able to tell the rest of us what to do. Sowell proves that, again and again, this approach has led to disaster after disaster. Sowell's observations are particularly apt in the age of the nanny state, when lifetime politicians in Washington -- with very little experience about anything in the real world -- are constantly forcing rules and policies down our throats. Although it is not a central theme for his book, Sowell really makes the case that "the government that governs least governs best." Anyone who would challenge Sowell's observations had better bring their "A game." This should be required reading for anyone who believes government knows best, or who would undertake to impose their views on others. We are living in very scary times, and this book illustrates in great detail why we all should be very afraid.

    8 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Client Amazon Europe 06-04-11
    Client Amazon Europe 06-04-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Biased, dishonest"

    I tried to read this book because it is good mental hygiene to read authors you don't agree with, at least when their views are based on facts and sound reasoning. But this book is just pure ideology and the author does obviously not apply to himself the standards of verification and unbiased judgment that he exacts from the intellectual class at large.

    6 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    More than disappointed 03-11-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Hidden agenda"

    Under the objetive sounding title of "intellectuals", the author specifically targets those one might label "liberal" or "leftist" and works up his annoying manifesto against them. Not a single example of those who may belong to the other end of the political spectrum, or any positive contributions of the targeted group is mentioned. One wonders whether many of the rights and privileges we enjoy would be available to us if it wasn't for those who shaped the public's opinion, the very group of people the author relentlessly and one-sidedly criticizes.
    I felt the book was more interested in driving a political agenda rather than pursuing an objective research, was annoyed and couldn't wait for it to end.
    Do not recommend at all.

    12 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Boise, ID, USA 02-05-10
    Andrew Boise, ID, USA 02-05-10
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    "Couldn't finish"

    While Sowell may be making good points, I thought his ideas hypocritical. He blasted academics and intellectuals as overstepping their expertise, but his opinions of historical outcomes obviously were overstepping his expertise as well. Unless he could actually be the "annoited one".

    15 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rasheed Cole Alexandria, VA 11-28-12
    Rasheed Cole Alexandria, VA 11-28-12
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    "The ideas will make you think although very slante"
    Would you try another book from Thomas Sowell and/or Tom Weiner?

    I may to try to broaden my stances but this book for my liking wasn't what I was looking for.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The most interesting thing and the least interesting thing end up being the same because the same thing he is saying intellectuals do, he is doing himself.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes it did.


    Any additional comments?

    The book isn't bad although a very rightly slanted view.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WILL LONE TREE, CO, United States 10-01-12
    WILL LONE TREE, CO, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2017
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    "Very informative and eye opening."

    The scales have been removed from my eyes. I have never read anything from Thomas Sowell. I knew who he was and respected his views. Also enjoyed his articles, but this book is outstanding.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shukhrat Martinez, GA, United States 05-31-10
    Shukhrat Martinez, GA, United States 05-31-10
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    "Very biased"

    Somewhat boring and very biased. It is very interesting point of view, but the author is pushing his agenda so hard that I cannot trust that he is giving his honest opinion and not trying to indoctrinate me.

    8 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Sheung WanHong Kong 03-05-10
    Christopher Sheung WanHong Kong 03-05-10 Member Since 2013
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    "Very Annoying"

    There are very few facts here and condradiction after contradiction leaves your mind spinning. The writer uses so many critical points of argument that sometimes only paragraphs later he is doing the exact same thing. Statements like, "Intellectuals never even bother to look into why China and India are successful.." then "Intellectuals make broad statements about catagories of people and what they do."

    Annoying.

    11 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheldon Encinitas, CA, United States 02-04-10
    Sheldon Encinitas, CA, United States 02-04-10 Member Since 2003
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    "an un-intellectual rant"

    The first part of this book mislead me into thinking that it would be an actual analysis of the role of intellectualism in contemporary culture. It turns out it is just an apologetic blather for anti-intellectual sentiment of the "populist" politics ilk that give us figures like Palin. The book accuses "intellectuals" in political power of making uninformed assertions, and seems to claim that it is better for anti-intellectuals to rule by making uniformed assertions. One of the few books that I just couldn't take after a few hours.

    13 of 35 people found this review helpful

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