This is the gritty story of one man's lifelong education in the school of hard knocks, as his journey took him from Harlem to the Marines, the Ivy League, and a career as a controversial writer, teacher, and economist in government and private industry. It is also the story of the dramatically changing times in which this personal odyssey took place.
Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, Thomas Sowell left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Thomas Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics.
Thomas Sowell graduated from Harvard University, received his Master's in Economics from Columbia University and his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago.
In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T. But his real interest was in teaching. Sowell began the first of many professorships at Cornell University, and his other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst College, Brandeis University and the UCLA, where he taught in the early '70s and '80s.
Thomas Sowell has a large volume of writing including a dozen books, and numerous articles and essays; covering a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to civil rights and judicial activism, even choosing the right college. Much of his ground-breaking writing will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today!
Though Thomas Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.
"George F. Will's writing," says Sowell, "...proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing."
Sowell's very timely book,The Housing Boom and Bust: Revised Edition attempts to determine whether what is being done to deal with America's 2009-2010 housing boom and bust problem is more likely to make things better or worse. His examination of racism and Liberalism in Black Rednecks and White Liberals is a classic from a daring perspective rarely heard in the Black Community. Nowhere else will you read about the co-dependent relationship between "..black rednecks.. and white liberals.."
Currently Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, Calif.
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When I became interested in economics a few years ago one of the curent writers I found was Thomas Sowell. I have now enjoyed over a dozen of his books. This autobiography, along with the compilation of his correspondence, "A Man of Letters", provides a view of the events that helped to shape his character.
Whether a reader has liberal or conservative leanings there is much to admire in Dr. Sowell's life. The term "Odyssey" in the book's title is well warranted as it traces his path from early years in Harlem, dropping out of highschool, through earning his PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, and beyond. My only regret after reading his work is that I'll probably never be able to have a conversation with him.
A Personal Odyssey Jun 15, 2009
Dr. Thomas Sowell is an excellent writer. I enjoy reading his books. He is beyond pale.
A profile in brilliance, intellectual honesty and courage Nov 18, 2008
The economist Thomas Sowell IS a hero, as well as a tough guy, as two other reviewers respectively describe him here, not only for his formidable intellectual accomplishments, but more important, for his lifetime dogged insistence on seeing things as they actually were, and unflinchingly reaching his conclusions based solely on the data and the rigorous application of logic to that data, no matter where that led him. I have never seen anyone with a greater commitment to the truth and to intellectual honesty, discipline and integrity.
I read this memoir because I had always admired Sowell's columns in the Post,in which he never displayed any interest in playing to the public, or in advancing any personal agenda, or in gratifying his own ego, but , instead, a completely serious interest in telling the unvarnished truth. I was curious about the man behind the scowling face that appeared next to his columns.
I wonder where Sowell's confidence came from so early in his life, but maybe even he doesn't know, and he doesn't seem to be big on navel-gazing. But he is truly an exceptional man.
We would be better off if we had a lot more teachers - and students - like Sowell.
Compilation of life stories from Childhood to today May 31, 2008
If you are interested in Thomas Sowell and enjoy some of his other books, then this book will be the perfect compliment explaining this great man's life. Built off of all personal accounts, Dr. Sowell takes you through his journey from a youngster to today's life.
Intriguing chapters include ones about being in the military, his son's inability to speak early on, and his mental conundrum about whether to get his PhD or not.
I personally enjoyed every page in the book and now feel like I know the man as a personal friend. Thank you Dr. Sowell!
A really great, inspiring book. May 22, 2008
This is an inspiring book overall, and for me personally. My views are very similar to those of Dr. Sowell and, like him, I'm a PhD economist. Like the author, I have worked in government, the private sector, and academia, so I very much understand the frustration he faced at various stages of his career and his reasons for moving from job to job during the early part of his career, despite taking pay cuts at various points along the way.
What I most admire about Dr. Sowell is his refusal to compromise, his consistently high standards, and his keen eye for the truth. These are what make him truly unique and, in my estimation, almost heroic. It is very difficult to make one's way in this world without compromising your standards and eventually giving in to mediocrity. A clearly brilliant man, he never tolerated stupidity from those who should know better. Most definitely a person to be admired and emulated (if that's possible).