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Ever Wonder Why? And Other Controversial Essays 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0817947521
ISBN-10: 0817947523
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Among his published works are Basic Economics, Late Talking Children, and Race and Culture. He has also published in both academic journals and the popular media including Newsweek, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and 150 newspapers that carry his nationally syndicated column.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1st edition (November 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817947523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817947521
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Nowacki on January 4, 2007
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Thomas Sowell is well known for bringing sanity and clarity to issues that are often presented from one side by people using fancy rhetoric and "political correctness." Sowell often uses the classical economist's thinking by analyzing issues in terms of trade-offs, incentives, cost-benefit analysis, etc. He also encourages readers to look at empirical evidence and results, not just promises of great results.

Thomas Sowell is arguably the world's foremost expert on issues relating to race and ethnicity, especially issues involving public policy. As a courageous black man, Sowell is not afraid to challenge traditional dogma relating to race and ethnicity issues. He says what many people think but are afraid of saying for fear of being labeled racist. Today if you oppose any policy that is said to help minorities in any way, even if the costs far exceed the benefits, or if the policy really hurts minorities, you are called racist and attacked. Sowell explains why not all policies that are supposed to help minorities actually help them.

Another subject of great interest to Sowell is education. He often writes about the failed policies of some school administrators, what can be done to improve schools, and why improvement is so difficult.

Sowell also writes about law and judicial issues. He writes about the dangers of judicial activism, tort law, and regulation. (It is more interesting than I make it sound).

Of course, Sowell also writes about "visions", or political and social philosophies. He has written books on "visions" in the past and in "Every Wonder Why?" you are given a glimpse of his understanding of the topic.

After growing up in North Carolia and Harlem, Sowell got his B.A. from Harvard in 1958, his M.A.
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Thomas Sowell is one of America's intellectual giants. He is at the top of my list of people I would love to spend an afternoon with. Short of that, his just released "Ever Wonder Why" is a good alternative.

"Ever Wonder Why" is a collection of Sowell's best columns, 146 in all. In the book, Sowell, prize winning author, economist (UCLA's `Chicago School East'), and historian, provides his insights on the culture wars (elitists vs. workers, issues of equality, the role of the lay press, immigration), economic issues (housing, the `cost' of health care, social security, taxes), legal issues (judges, property rights, medical lawsuits), political issues (gun control myths, Ronald Reagan, the high cost of busybodies), education issues (school performance, vouchers, the `good' teachers), racial issues (are cops racist? Bill Cosby, race and IQ), and random thoughts.

Sowell informs, and teaches. He writes with impeccable logic and clarity. An afternoon with Sowell, either in-person or with "Ever Wonder Why," will be stimulating and thought provoking. You will be better for it.
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Reading Thomas' Sowell's columns is having your eyes opened to what's in front of you. He makes you think like nobody else in the business of commentary can. He is one of very few intellectuals left in the commentary sector of politics, too. If you're a conservative or libertarian who finds people like Sean Hannity and Dennis Prager a little grating and bombastic (and perhaps a little too religious), Sowell is a fantastic alternative.
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Thomas Sowell explains things so well. It is so easy to understand economics when it is explained in context with basic human nature. I really do "Wonder Why" libs are sooo... baffled by capitalism and freedom.
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This book is a series of Sowell's newspaper columns, and, as usual, provokes thought, makes sense, and lays bare the many myths of our times. I have always enjoyed his books, but this one is easiest to read in short bursts because of the necessarily small size of the chapter, each of which had to fit a newspaper column in it's day.
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You can't read Sowell and not learn something, ever. You do have to take it in small steps though. There's just too many great insights per chapter in this book by one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

It's too bad he's not only in his 40's. I'd love to see him keep writing for another 50 years!
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I would not recommend this for first time Sowell readers, as it may come off smug and arrogant; instead, first check out some of his comprehensive, subject driven books so you know that he knows exactly what he's talking about. This is a collection of Sowell's essays and columns that have been published over the years, split into broad categories. As such, the material is condensed and not detailed with much data as in his other books, but the points remain loud and clear. It is an excellent supplimental for true believers, full of essay after essay of light, yet engaging material. If you've ever spent an hour or so browsing through the archives of Sowell columns on your local newspaper's website, this book is perfect for you.
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For such a learned scholar (who has written such technical books as "Culture and Conquest"), Thomas Sowell writes some of the most delightful popular essays. "Ever Wonder Why" is a collection of his newspaper essays written in the last few years.

Sowell is very much a conservative with liberarian tendencies. (In one essay, he calls himself a "conservative radical.") For those who would classify themselves similarly, there is much to love in these essaya. For all others, hang on to your hats.

The book is divided into seven sections: (1) The Culture Wars, (2) Economic Issues, (3) Legal Issues, (4) Poiitical Issues, (5) Social Issues, (6) Educational Issues, and (7) Racial Issues. While the essay topics are quite varied - from the economic harms of environmental politics to whether race correlates with IQ - there are somseveral reoccurring themes.

As Sowell is a (world class) economist, the strongest theme is that no matter how much some might wish differently, the fact is that the world functions by economic principles. Supply and demand are not evil; it is just the way we all think. Policies that try and usurp people's ability to set their own prices and make their own econmic decision will (almost?) always lead to less efficiency and more waste. Sowell explains this by examining things like tariffs, environmental regulations, and housing codes (all straight from the headlines!)

Another big theme is what Sowell calls the "tyranny of visions" (see his books "Vision of the Annointed" and "Conflict of Visions" for book-length treatments.) Here, Sowell excoriates those who quest, chimerically, after policies without a downside and ignore the FACT that ALL policies need to be examined as trade-offs between benefits and costs. Want to save the wetlands?
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