Intellectuals

Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 18 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In cart

Publisher's Summary

Since the time of Voltaire and Rousseau, the secular intellectual has increasingly filled the vacuum left by the decline of the cleric and assumed the functions of moral mentor and critic of mankind. This fascinating portrait of the minds that have shaped the modern world examines the moral credentials of those whose thoughts have influenced humanity.

How do intellectuals set about reaching their conclusions? How carefully do they examine the evidence? How great is their respect for truth? And how do they apply their public principles to their private lives? In an intriguing series of case studies and incisive portraits, Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sartre, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Noam Chomsky, and others are revealed as intellectuals both brilliant and contradictory, magnetic and dangerous.

©1988 Paul Johnson (P)1989 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    149
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    11
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    128
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    128
  • 4 Stars
    43
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • EJ
  • 08-25-17

Great book. Well read (audible)

The trail of the intellectuals is filled with radicalism and perversion. It is very interesting to see the men and women behind the theories and ideas that have greatly influenced culture in the past few centuries. Intellectuals may be brilliant in art or have a certain area of expertise, but when an intellectual begins to express influence in an area outside of where he or she has proven his or her mastery of a subject, beware. "A dozen people picked at random on the street are at least as likely to offer sensible views on moral and political matters as a cross-section of the intelligentsia. But I would go further. One of the principal lessons of our tragic century, which has seen so many millions of innocent lives sacrificed in schemes to improve the lot of humanity, is-beware intellectuals. Not merely should they be kept well away from the levers of power, they should also be objects of particular suspicion when they seek to offer collective advice. Beware committees, conferences and leagues of intellectuals. Distrust public statements issued from their serried ranks. Discount their verdicts on political leaders and important events."

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Biographical Audiobook!

Paul Johnson is incomparable in this book! He presents in great clarity, biographical overviews of many intellectuals who have caused tremendous sorrow in western society. After listening to this audiobook, which covers a wide range of persons (Rousseau to James Baldwin, with many, many others); you will undoubtedly have a better understanding of who these people really were!

Many thanks Mr. Johnson for taking the time to write this informative book! Additionally, Fredrick Davidson did an excellent job reading the text. I unhesitatingly recommend this audiobook!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The petty men (mostly) behind the big ideas

I have to say, this was eminently listenable. Some of the intellectuals featured here -- in short biographies -- may surprise you. Ibsen? Hemingway? Whomever they are, they're not spared the critical eye of the author. Especially when it comes to the lives they led. None of them, it seems, could be considered a good guy with some faults. And were it not for their intellects and their art, they wouldn't have contributed anything to humanity. Things at times verge on the catty. We learn more about their personal lives than their ideas. In other words, this is basically intellectual gossip. And yet, well, it was never boring.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Astonishing Treasure of a Book

Any additional comments?

After reading or listening to all the popular classics and hundreds of other books, I've found it difficult to find a monthly subscription book worth listening to. I lucked out on this one; choosing it only because it was non-fiction and performed by my favorite reader. Intellectuals is an eye opener I'd recommend to everyone. The insight provided on these conventional idols is priceless and the delivery is perfection.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Narrator had a heavy British accent, making it difficult to understand at times.
All in all he was ok.

Other wise 5 stars

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful framework for understanding our modern world-ways

Lucid and instructive historical narrative of why and how we think as a society as well as how we have been and continue to be seduced by our “intellectual” class. Super and sober narrative voice!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Paul Johnson is the real intelectual

Would you follow Rousseau's teachings if you knew that his 5 children were deposited in a horrible orphanage with a low life expectancy?
Many left reformer "so called" intellectuals were despicable people. This book takes you into their sordid world. Then you decide if you are impressed with words or deeds.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

audio problems

the individual reader did a great job, but I could hear random, unharmonious sounds in the background throughout the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is a great, insightful read!!

I already believed much of what Johnson writes about here, but never had the vocabulary or depth of knowledge to state my case. Johnson does so here with seeming ease.
The only issue I have with the audio version is that the narrator finds it necessary to affect native dialects when quoting these intellectuals, almost as if he's purposely trying to ridicule Johnson himself by turning in a secondsecond-rate performance. Otherwise, it's really a good audiobook!!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A Collection of Hit Peices

This book is really just a series of hit peices on prominent intellectuals in history. The author has strong disagreements with all these figures, and I generally share his view in that regard; if the book had been an investigation of the problems with their ideas, or of how their influence has been harmful to the world of the liberal arts, it would have been much better.

Instead, it is an expose on their hygene habits, sex lives, and financial problems, which makes it little more than an object lesson in the ad hominem fallacy. It does nothing to demonstrate that the ideas of these intellectuals were wrong; all it accomplishes is lowering the level of public discourse.

Additionally, I noticed a few major factual errors. The author seems the think that Jean-Paul Sartre created existentialism, for example, though it predates him by a century; he is not even the first prominent existentialist, as major figures like Friedrich Nietzsche are among his predecessors in the movement. Errors like this make me wonder how much the book gets wrong in areas I am less familiar with, which certainly includes the personal lives of the figures.

But even if he is entirely correct in all the details he provides (I certainly don't doubt that many of the intellectuals he covers were bad people), it shouldn't matter. The book is not useful as a general condemnation of intllectualism since many intellectuals, some of them mentioned in this book (e.g. David Hume), were quite upstanding members of society. Nor is it useful as a refutation of the specific intellectuals he covers since their influence is in their ideas, which he barely touches on. I am left wondering what the book IS useful for, other than the low-grade satisfaction of knowing people I disagree with were also bad people. Not worth reading.