Intellectuals and Race is a radical book in the original sense—one that
goes to the root of the problem. The role of intellectuals in racial strife is
explored in an international context that puts the American experience in a
wholly new light.
Intellectuals have played a major role in racial
issues throughout the centuries. Though their individual views may differ, as a
whole their views tend to group, and just over the course of the twentieth
century, they have shifted from one end of the spectrum to the other. Surprisingly, these radically different views of race were held by intellectuals whose views on other issues were often very
Intellectuals and Race is not, however, a book
about history, even though it has much historical evidence, as well as
demographic, geographic, and economic evidence—all of it directed
toward testing the underlying assumptions about race that have prevailed at
times among intellectuals in general, and especially at their highest levels. Nor is this simply a theoretical exercise. Sowell’s ultimate concern is the impact of intellectual movements on the larger society, both past and present. These ideas and crusades have ranged widely from
racial theories of intelligence to eugenics to “social justice” and
In addition to in-depth examinations of these and other
issues, Intellectuals and Race explores the incentives, the visions, and
the rationales that drive intellectuals at the highest levels to conclusions
that have often turned out to be counterproductive and even disastrous, not
only for particular racial or ethnic groups but for societies as a whole.
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