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Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America Hardcover – December 6, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left and Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas. A popular radio guest and frequent speaker on college campuses, he writes a weekly column for HumanEvents.com and blogs at www.flynnfiles.com. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1 edition (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610170202
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610170208
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,309,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D_shrink VINE VOICE on January 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
One Book, Two Books, or Five?
Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America is primarily a book covering the intellectual history of America. It is also a criticism of the current state of affairs. While been both this and that it is also a collection of five biographical vignettes of the eponymous blue collar intellectual. That the book succeeds in being all these things without overwrought affectations and without exceeding two hundred pages is a testament to the concision and narrative prowess of the author.

The introduction cuts right to the matter. Here in a mere fifteen pages the author tears down the sand-founded edifice of American pulp culture. Flynn's critique is astute and precise. His short description of the maladaptive society strikes the reader by its sheer obviousness, the sort that begs a cliche mention of noses and whats under them: "One can reference The Simpsons or Anchorman or an Eminem lyric with the understanding that an educated audience will know what one is talking about. Try doing that with The Odyssey or Moby Dick even. What is means to be an educated person has changed for the worse." That such statements are equal part condemnation and observation only adds to the power of introduction.

The book is more than its introductory remarks--they are strong enough to earn such a lengthy mention, but there is more. The book moves directly into the biographies of intellectuals who the author describes as being both blue collar and intellectuals. But what sets them apart is not either blue-collarness or intellectualism but their egalitarian take on knowledge, and more than this their evangelism of higher things for the very cut of society more often viewed as bereft of intelligence.
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Format: Hardcover
I have neither the patience nor the political wonkism to view C-SPAN on a regular basis, but I am a frequent viewer of their cultural programming called BOOKTV on CSPAN2 weekends. It was there that I saw Daniel J. Flynn lecture on the topic of his enlightening book, Blue Collar Intellectuals. Inspired, I acquired the book and was not disappointed with his stories of five intellectuals, outsiders with uncommon backgrounds, who reached out to "blue collar" people everywhere.
I first encountered one of the five intellectuals included in Flynn's book during my teen years reading science fiction. One of my favorite authors was Ray Bradbury and his tales, especially those of Humans and Martians collected in The Martian Chronicles. Flynn tells of Bradbury's impoverished family background as he grew up in the 1920s and his early reading of Edgar Allan Poe (also a favorite of mine since my pre-teen years) and others like Edgar Rice Burroughs. Even after he became famous for his own fantastic stories Bradbury was considered an outsider in traditional publishing circles, but maintained popularity with everyday folk. Time magazine labelled Bradbury "poet of the pulps" that seemed to sum up the cognoscenti's opinion of him.
My next encounter with the intellectuals that Daniel Flynn depicts did not begin until I was on my way to college at the University of Wisconsin in the summer of 1967. Required reading for all incoming freshmen was a short book by Eric Hoffer, The True Believer. This was my introduction to one of Flynn's "Blue Collar Intellectuals" and to a book that is as relevant today as it was forty-five years ago.
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