Customer Review

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Understand and to the Point!, January 20, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America (Hardcover)
This is a very non-PC book that tells it like it is rather than how we would like it to be.

The author's definition of a BLUE COLLAR INTELLECTUAL is a thinker who hails from a working class background and whose intellectual work targets, in part or whole, a mass audience.

The author's writing is sharp, crisp, and to the point. He sets the tone for the rest of the book from page one with lines as "Stupid is the new smart." This is followed on page two with "Something important generates interest only when it's reduced to its most trivial aspect." Yet most people who would dare challenge the idea of reality TV in no way representing reality would immediately be castigated as not being modern or having tastes too different from society as a whole to be considered relevant.

To make his points, the author gives five examples of brilliant intellectuals who all achieved fame and all grew up in poverty and only achieved fame as adults and of their own making.

The five examples he uses are:
1. Will and Ariel Durant - [as a couple, since they wrote together for much of their adult life]. Their relationship was strange in that he grew up in a devout catholic home, while she born Chaya Kaufman, nee Ariel, in a Ukrainian Jewish Ghetto. He was much older than she; yet their marriage lasted 68 years with her predeceasing him by about two weeks. The author said of the couple "For Will, the Jesuits imparted knowledge and wisdom; for Ariel, Will did." Short and right to the point, as was all the writing in the book. "The Story of Philosophy" remained on the ten best seller list for 4 out of 5 years from 1926-1930, while it was the top selling hardback in 1927. They won the Pulitzer Prize for their book "The Story of Civilization. Simply reading about them as a couple makes one want to read their prized works.
2. Mortimer Adler - he devised the GREAT BOOKS movement still used by some colleges. It was about four times as long and a competitor to THE HARVARD CLASSICS.
3. Milton Friedman - my favorite economist and who like Will Durant credits his wife Ruth with helping him transform his words into language the average person could relate to. Friedman's most famous book FREE TO CHOOSE was later made into a TV series in 1980 and as with Durants' works are available on Amazon. For those not having seen the original series on PBS, it is well worth the price to see it today, as the examples are still relevant.
4. Eric Hoffer - The Longshoreman Philosopher, who got a PH.D. without ever officially graduating high school. He is one of the best examples of an autodidact that I can think of. At the time of his most important success in writing he was the favorite of both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson, which pretty much indicates his universal appeal. His writing, like the author's was sharp and to the point as witnessed by lines like "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength," and "Mass movements act as the religion for people who resist religion...[while] Hatred unifies the mass movement in a way love cannot." That could pretty well describe the Occupy this or that movements of today.
5. Ray Bradbury - another genius and hard scrabble short story and TV script writer. Ray grew up so poor that he and his brother had to share a pull-out sofa bed in the living room until he left home. Ray worked diligently to get his stories across and resubmitted them to different magazines when turned down by the first, sometimes even after being accepted by the first. Ray was one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite writers and feelings between the two men was mutual.

This is a short book of only 200pp of which the body is only 150pp, the rest being copious notes and an index. It's a great book with well thought out ideas for the serious minded.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2012 2:34:25 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Apr 4, 2012 6:57:03 AM PDT
Max Weismann says:
We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos--lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

Thank you,

Max Weismann
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details



Location: SC United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,510