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Publisher's Summary

This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop, on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace.

The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is that the influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted to directly influence rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored by intellectuals. Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those intellectuals.

Intellectuals and Society not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. One of the most surprising aspects of this study is how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society-- and how little their views have changed in response to empirical evidence of the disasters entailed by those views.

©2009 Thomas Sowell (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Intellectuals and Society

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Excellent Book

I really enjoyed this book. it was well read and full fascinating information. There's so much in here I. going to have to listen several times. Thomas Sowell is a fascinating person.

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enlightening and important

Every single university student should be made to read this before they are assaulted with ideology. Absolute brilliance

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very important book

This book was very helpful to show me what is going on in our society and why people seem to insist on destroying it. It shows me the importance of making sure that ideas are checked against evidence.

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Enlightening.

I recommend for those truly interested in understanding "why" and not just a confirmation bias viewpoint

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Profoundly insightful and highly accessible.

Never before has the public been so subjected to the opinions of the few. Thomas Sowell’s book is a vitally important contribution in a time when so many are taught what to think and not how to think. One of the most important books of the modern era.

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great book, very much enjoyed the contents,

love this book, significantly increased my knowledge, I may need to have hard copy text

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  • Ed
  • 25-06-2018

Deep and profound analysis

A completely eye opening view of todays political and cultural civil war. Even though it was written some years ago it provides a model of prediction of how our society could unfold

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 17-08-2013

I find Thomas Sowell fascinating

I have to confess that I find Thomas Sowell fascinating. I read his book “Economic Facts and Fallacies” and I have read many more. I enjoy watching him one “Youtube.” The man has a fantastic mind, he is able to tie real problems and solutions to real outcomes. He does not need to invent, slander or use pejoratives to attach those that disagree. His logic, history, facts and reality prove him right over and over again
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I love this book. I enjoyed every bit of it, and I love how Dr. Sowell ties every bit of the intelligentsia’s rhetoric back facts, numbers, reality, and history. The book follows Dr. Sowell’s thoughts on most of the materials I have read. There is nothing new here, except the ability to read Dr. Sowell’s thought. He is unapologetic, honest and forthright. Unlike the Intellectuals who will attack him personally, he has honor, and real intelligence. This work will never rise to fame, as he pulls the blinds open on the Intelligentsia, but it is a great read, even if you don’t care for Thomas Sowell.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 17-11-2016

Incredible

For sure one of his best works. I highly recommend for anyone seeking to understand the unaccountable dogmatism of the media and intellectuals around the world.

11 people found this helpful

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  • mark
  • 29-10-2016

This should be required in high schools and colleges, perhaps junior high schools.

This book also explains the trouble Americans have found themselves with our political systems.
Ayn Rand's book on capitalism should also be read by students.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 17-05-2015

Informative

All Thomas Sowell books are written with truth as the foundation. The narrator was fantastic and well rehearsed. Highly recommended.

8 people found this helpful

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  • MC
  • 03-01-2021

Intellectualism at its Worst (by the author’s definition)

The author displays intellect and an extraordinarily inflated sense of his own wisdom. His diagnosis of intellectuals’ faults without applying those faults to his own premise is baffling. He also fails to grasp or (more likely) ignores how “sciences” are underpinned by intellectual thought. If the intellectuals say the world is flat, that may have an impact on science. Even though I listened to this book for free, I feel like I’ve been robbed of time and honest discourse.

7 people found this helpful

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  • William Michael Brauer
  • 28-08-2016

Excellent

If
I had to choose a single book to have my children and those I love read, this would be it.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Gare&Sophia
  • 05-12-2012

An efficient attack on liberal philosophy.

This author is intelligent and mission oriented. He has taken the liberal line and found many cogent attacks on its margins and fissures. His tone is condsending, and he can be quite harsh. However, if you are a liberal I recommend this book to understand the conservative line. If you are a conservative this book will fit very well into your worldview.

He makes so good point about how the liberal model, that we can do better, is often at variance with actual experience. Yet, a good innoculation to his retoric would be the books; The working poor, and The new Jim Crow. These books counter all of the arguments that are passionately offered in this work.

However, all in all, I found this book to be informative and interesting.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Timmacsar
  • 17-04-2016

Old version

I am new to audio books. At times, I like to read along whilst listening. Unfortunately, this audio Is of an earlier version to the one I have in print. There were enough changes to make the exercise useless.
As for the book, I so truly enjoy Dr. Sowell's writings - this being no different. If you are looking for a clear explanation for much of the societal madness you see unfold ing around you, I can think of no better place to start than this book.
If you are basically "conservative" or "classical liberal" by nature, the book, though large with small print, will be a page-turner.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 07-12-2015

Dr. Thomas Sowell is a national treasure

I continue to write reviews of the very best of the many hundreds books in my Audible library that I listened to before I started routinely writing reviews. Intellectuals and Society is fits in that category.

Sowell is a PhD economist who also is black. His economics books are best read and studied in printed format, but his books, columns, and essays on history, culture, and and current events are a great fit for the audiobook format. Dr. Sowell is now in his 80's but he remains prolific. On my list of public people I most admire he ranks #1!

In this audiobook Sowell makes the case that most intellectuals are arrogant and lack common sense, and that their views have far more sway on public opinion and policy than is justified. His case is a strong one that is supported by a multitude of examples.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Justin
  • 06-05-2010

Biased but good

Wow! I have to admit this was a book that forced me to look up quite a few words, but it was worth it to figure out exactly what concept the author was trying to convey. This book has strong biases against "Intellectuals" as defined by the author, but he makes excellent points on how society is sometimes hindered by the elitist mentality that is becoming more prevalent in our higher education system graduates and government officials.

To sum up the author's concept as best I can: There is a select, but growing group of individuals who feel that society should be run by the smartest and most educated. That this group of select few will do a better job of running society and deciding what is best for the not-so-educated, not-so-smart masses.

He fundamentally believes that this approach is complete folly.

The author repeatedly challenges this concept and gives numerous examples (some good and some really biased) of how this method of leading society is flawed.

Well worth the read if only to challenge yourself to look at things differently.

37 people found this helpful

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  • George Dunbar
  • 22-02-2019

One of the most important books of this century

This book was amazing in that it completely changed the way that I view the world. Sowell argues that it is the way that intellectuals view the world in abstract ways, rather than in direct response to it, that creates the problems of over simplifications, generalisations and simply flawed thinking.

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  • Aaron Ison
  • 01-12-2021

Another excellent book by Thomas Sowell.

Perhaps more than any other of Thomas Sowell's great books, this more than any other reaches the core of what has gone wrong with western society. Sowell highlights how the radical ideas of many liberals and leftists burrow their way unchallenged into our body politic, fail, then emerge unscathed with no damage or cost to the intellectual concerned. The only costs of the failed idea is borne by many other people who must suffer the consequences of left wing idealism. Whilst this is an excellent work of analytical thinking, it is not a dry treatise and Sowell is scathing in his justified attacks on leftist elites and their thinking, as well as the damage wrought on our society by unaccountable utopians who never see, acknowledge or suffer from their failures. Please listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steven Brown
  • 07-06-2021

Superb!

Another fabulous, critical analysis of the legion failures of those who seek to live in the World as they wish it was, rather than the World as it actually is.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ste mc
  • 23-05-2021

Enlightening

it's like taking the red pill. You see the world as it is not how it is portrayed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JB
  • 06-05-2022

A revelation.

I did not know anything about T Sowell before taking this book. I am most impressed by his breadth of insight. So much of what he says makes sense and tallies with what is happening in the West now, post-Covid and amidst the woke revolution. many parallels with John McWhorter 's thoughts. it would be useful for this book to be compulsory reading for students, teachers and our politicians.

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  • Timothy S.
  • 27-04-2022

outstanding

reprogrammes your brain to make it work properly. Sowell is a one man fact factory

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-2022

brilliant

brilliant book hugely important. society would benefit hugely if everyone was to read this.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-02-2022

An excellent case.

Thomas Sowell presents his arguments very well and makes an excellent case. Wether the reader agrees or not it is a very informative and interesting book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-2022

meh...

I liked some parts but the guy's promoting regressive policys. of course he wants the country to be better, but his ego is limited to a certain part of reality, the one he preffers.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-11-2021

important discussion on morality and responsibilit

Even though the author tries to be pendular and cover and bigger spectrum of opinions, he takes side on the discussion. It's not always easy to agree with the author, but the argumentative style invites for the checking of facts rather than believing mainstream and ideological tendencies. All-in-all a time well invested.

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