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A Personal Odyssey Paperback – February 5, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
All that this book reveals about Sowell is consistent with what I'd previously known of him - for example, that he's uncompromising, crusty, and wholly unafraid to speak what he believes to be the truth. But the book puts interesting bulk on my previously thin knowledge of the man, his background, and his experiences.
Nothing I learned about him from this book shocked me, although I didn't realize just how many scholarly institutions Sowell has been associated with. Nor did I realize that Sowell's well-known disdain for the modern academy dates back to his earliest years in college. He did not, contrary to my previous assumption, grow disgruntled with academic life only in the 1970s.
True to lifelong form, Sowell did not write this book in an effort to win hugs and kisses. As this book makes quite clear, he's obviously not a huggable guy, and nor does he care to be. But he is a genuinely courageous man of integrity, in addition to being a fine scholar.
For years I had the final lines of his Knowledge and Decisions taped to my office door. They nicely capture a principal theme of his policy works: "Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their `betters.'"
Bravo for Thomas Sowell! May he live and work for many decades to come.
Although this entire book is a must-read, I would like to touch on a couple of areas therein that really got my attention. One was Sowell's view on race-based affirmative action. From the very beginning Sowell saw the inherent flaws in this policy, particularly in college admissions. Granting academically underqualified and underprepared minority students to elite and academically intensive universities all in the name of "equality" was, as Sowell saw early on, basically a case of putting students in academic settings there they were sure to fail. It was a recipe for disaster from the outset. In particularly, he saw many college and university administrators bypassing the most qualified minority students in favor of the most ideologically and politically "pro-black" younsters who were just not prepared for the rigors of, say, a Cornell University, where Sowell taught for a time. He adamantly spoke out against this time and again, but to no avail.
Which brings me to another aspect of Sowell's life and personality that appealed to me: He was not afraid to question or challenge authority. True, he made many an enemy as a result, but this didn't shake him. In fact, as he points out, the thing that hurts people the most is the truth. He was not afraid to tell the truth, whether anyone like it or not.
Thomas Sowell is one of the greatest intellectual minds of our time. I highly recommend this book.
So many times Dr. Sowell came to a place where the stated mission was later found contrary to the real priorities of his superiors, who thwarted so many of his efforts to accomplish the stated mission. When he would finally corner them into admitting their ulterior motives and obstructionism, they had the choice of changing policies or accepting his resignation. Few people have resigned from so many places, and fewer still were later sought by the same places with promises that, really, it will be different this time.
It is also wonderful to behold someone who thinks like an economist virtually ALL THE TIME. He asks, why should blacks spend any energy protesting against a fifth-rate school for not admitting them? Especially when the best schools WERE admitting them? Can not that energy be better used elsewhere? Good questions. This kind of thinking is so prevalent in the book it inspires one to emulate it as a matter of lifestyle.
True, this is not a tell-all, and some things are left mysteries (like why exactly he parted with his unnamed first wife). Perhaps some such things are best left unanswered. After all, we are talking about DR. Thomas Sowell, not MR. Geraldo Rivera. I think we learned enough to understand the man and allow him to keep his dignity, and yes, respect the privacy of the other players, guilty or not.
This is a compelling story which is not easily put down once started.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is very well written and as usual Dr Sowell is very informative as to how he came to be what he is. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cliff Young
A terrific autobiography by one of America's greats. His life is exemplary, his prose supple, his sense of things more solidly on the side of right than almost anyone else I've... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Arthur Mortensen
Dr. Sowell provides a fascinating story of someone who came from limited means, with a high intellect, a high moral fiber, who became one of the clearest thinking economists in the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Camerons
I really enjoyed this book. This book has a lot of worded visuals.Published 5 months ago by jerriney rice
If you love the many works of Thomas Sowell, then this is a must have book.
I have heard (in various interviews) many of the stories from his youth in this book, but you... Read more
Easy and enjoyable read as well as insightful. Description of the academic environment's workplace is priceless and should be required reading for all "equal opportunity"... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Gagentfarmer
A copy of this should be in the hands of every fifth grader in the country, especially those who feel "underpriveleged."Published 8 months ago by Ben