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Intellectuals and Race Hardcover – March 12, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lamenting the tendency toward one-dimensional analysis of race status in the U.S., Sowell explores the various perspectives that intellectuals have brought to race on how racial groups have affected and been effected by the sociopolitics of their era. He analyzes the early twentieth-century notions of genetic determination, or biology as destiny, which evolved into the eugenics movement and the foundation of Nazism, and he juxtaposes this with the late twentieth-century intellectual assessment of discrimination as the dominant cause of race status. Sowell digs beneath the intellectual arguments to offer more nuanced and complex consideration of attitudes on race and racism. For example, he notes that white project dwellers in Britain “act out” in ways similar to those of black American ghetto dwellers and that, at the turn of the twentieth century, black northerners were not segregated until the arrival of southern black migrants, whom they criticized nearly as much as whites did. Through myriad other observations, Sowell analyzes the significance of class in perspectives on race and considers how intellectuals themselves are driven to their positions. --Vernon Ford


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Sowell brings an all-too-rare perspective to whatever he writes about — that of a conservative black intellectual, especially valuable for this book’s topic.”

New American
“After reading Dr. Thomas Sowell’s latest book, Intellectuals and Race, one cannot emerge with much respect for the reasoning powers of intellectuals, particularly academics, on matters of race. There’s so much faulty logic and downright dishonesty.”

Mona Charen, Creator’s Syndicate
“I plunged into Thomas Sowell’s latest book, Intellectuals and Race, immediately upon its arrival, but soon realized that I needed to slow down. Many writers express a few ideas with a great cataract of words. Sowell is the opposite. Every sentence contains at least one insight or fascinating statistic — frequently more than one.”

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465058728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465058723
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About 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 in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"There is no subject that is more in need of dispassionate analysis, careful factual research and a fearless and honest discussion than is race." -- p 3

It is a book that is long overdue. Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and the author of more than three-dozen books. Sowell is an African-American who takes great umbrage at the views being espoused by the "chattering class" of American intellectuals who continue to advance the notion that society-at-large is to blame for the social and economic disparities that exist in our nation. According to the intelligentsia, deep-seated racism continues to be present in the minds of most white Americans. In his superb new book "Intellectuals and Race" Dr. Sowell thoroughly and systematically dismantles the liberal argument about race. In this meticulously researched offering Sowell takes a look at societies around the world to back up his assertions. Time and again he demonstrates that more often than not it is internal factors within a race or group of people that account for many of these disparities. He compares the problems plaguing the white lower class in Britain with those of African-Americans here in America. You may be quite surprised to discover that the problems facing both groups are virtually identical and have continued to escalate over the past fifty years. The solutions offered by progressives and liberals have clearly not worked. Thomas Sowell believes he has key to solving many of these persistent problems.

In "Intellectuals and Race" Thomas Sowell gets us all up to speed with the history of intellectual thought about race over the past 100 years. There are some fascinating twists and turns along the way.
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Let me start with a quick word of warning: "Most, but not all, of these chapters first appeared in a special section on race that was added to the revised edition of a much larger and more sweeping study, Intellectuals and Society: Revised and Expanded Edition. Here I have belatedly taken the advice of my research assistant Na Liu, and published these chapters in a separate book for those who wish to focus on racial issues, rather than take on the larger and more time-consuming task of traveling on a more sweeping journey across the landscape of intellectuals' influences on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace." So, if you have bought, or plan to read, the revised edition of I&S, then you may not feel the need to purchase this book separately, although there are some chapters in this book which are not in I&S.

That said, I have only read one other book by Thomas Sowell - Dismantling America: and other controversial essays. Overall, I was not too terribly impressed or swayed by much of what I read there. I did find myself however in agreement with the things Mr. Sowell had to say here in this book, Intellectuals and Race. I have read quite a bit in regards to race and all that goes with that. Some of the books which go into a great deal more detail, but also coincide with the general gist of this book, are:
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This is one of the books that every American needs to read, not to mention intellectuals around the planet. Thomas Sowell really hits this one out of the park, by choosing to discuss what our leftie leaders never want to discuss.

For example: should university admissions reflect the general population data? That is, in a country which is (say) 10% Japanese, 5% Jewish, 75% "white," and 10% "black," should the freshman class reflect these percentages? Sowell has the temerity to point out that this has never been true, anywhere or anyhow. This "disparity" arises because of race differences, or group differences.

That is to say, Italians are not the same as Englishmen. Frenchmen are not the same as Germans. These differences arise from the different cultures, which in turn depend on myriad causes, from the geographical to the historical.

You also need to throw in the fact that "hill people" always lag behind the "plains people," simply because they are more isolated. A prime example of laggard people might be those of New Guinea, or the Australian aborigines.

Historical circumstances? The subject peoples of the Roman Empire were murdered and enslaved, but they took away one prize impossible to put a price on: Roman letters, and the whole idea of literacy.

This book is for you, if you enjoy a conversation with a first-class mind.
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Sowell has been a courageous student of race, racial attitudes, and racial demagoguery for a generation. He is one of the few economists who is willing to dig through the data dispassionately, even if it means coming to conclusions that don't fit the popular cultural narrative. Born in the Jim Crow south and raised in Harlem, Thomas Sowell has a little bit of experience with being black in America. But Sowell's brilliance as an economist and writer isn't about race. The conservatives who exalt him have never made it an issue. In fact, when you read Thomas Sowell write about race, he rarely uses personal anecdotes, which is rather remarkable considering what he have experienced in his life. Thomas Sowell is one of the great minds of the last half-century.
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