A biography of Thomas Sowell, one of America's most influential conservative thinkers. Thomas Sowell is one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than a half century, he has written over thirty books, covering topics from economic history and social inequality to political theory, race, and culture. His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endeared him to many readers but have also enraged fellow intellectuals, the civil-rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. The result has been a lack of acknowledgment of his scholarship among critics who prioritize political correctness. In the first-ever biography of Sowell, Jason L. Riley gives this iconic thinker his due and responds to the detractors. Maverick showcases Sowell's most significant writings and traces the life events that shaped his ideas and resulted in a Black orphan from the Jim Crow South becoming one of our foremost public intellectuals.
Wall Street Journal columnist Riley (Please Stop Helping Us) explores the roots of conservative social theorist Thomas Sowell's ideas on race, economics, and the "trade-offs between individual liberty and state intervention" in this flattering biography. Riley sketches how Sowell's background as a Black orphan in 1930s North Carolina and a high school dropout who went on to earn advanced degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago informed his opposition to affirmative action and his belief in the uplifting benefits of free market capitalism for African Americans and other minorities. There are some colorful details about Sowell's early life (at a Bronx homeless shelter for boys, he "kept a knife under his pillow for protection"), but Riley mainly focuses on how Sowell's "adherence to empiricism" led him to conclude that the welfare system "pay people to fail," that sexism does not explain the gender pay gap, and that the "internal cultures" of ethnic groups play a bigger role than discrimination in determining how they fare in the U.S. Along the way, Riley takes potshots at liberal scholars, characterizing their disagreements with Sowell as unsupported by the data and based on willful misreadings of his arguments. Conservatives will cherish this one-sided hagiography; others need not apply.
Appreciate the effort to further popularize a great man
Good short synopsis of Sowell’s life and writings. That there seems to be somewhat of a “Sowellian” revival is gratifying.
Great read about a great man!