Ever Wonder Why? And Other Controversial Essays [Paperback]

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"The desire of individuals and groups to puff themselves up by imposing their vision on other people is a recurring theme in the culture wars"

Thomas Sowell takes on a range of legal, social, racial, educational, and economic issues--along with "the culture wars"--in this latest collection of his controversial, never boring, always thought-provoking essays. From "gun control myths" to "mealy mouth media" to "free lunch medicine," Sowell gets to the heart of the matters we all care about with his characteristically unswerving candor.

Sowell skewers the "mealy mouth media" that calls terrorists "insurgents" and rioters "demonstrators." He reveals how "the idiocy of relevance" in learning has been particularly destructive in the education of minority students at all levels. He explains how a free market and a strict construction of the 14th Amendment would never have permitted the laws that asked Rosa Parks to give up her seat to a white man. And he clarifies the confusion between equal opportunity and equal results that resides behind many kinds of "spoiled brat politics."

With Ever Wonder Why?--drawn from the best of his popular syndicated newspaper columns--Sowell once again takes dead aim at the self-righteous and self-important forces in government, media, education, and other areas of our society, offering the thoughtful perceptions, commonsense insights, and straightforward honesty we have come to expect from one of conservatism's most articulate voices.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Among his published works are Basic Economics, Late Talking Children, and Race and Culture. He has also published in both academic journals and the popular media including Newsweek, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and 150 newspapers that carry his nationally syndicated column.

Item Specifications...

Pages   460
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Hoover Institution Press
ISBN  0817947523  
EAN  9780817947521  

Availability  0 units.

More About Thomas Sowell
Thomas  Sowell 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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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Thomas Sowell shines in this incisive collection  Oct 6, 2009
Thomas Sowell does not disappoint with this collection of essays. The title essay in particular shows the incisive mind for which he is rightly famous. The way in which the essays cut through the bevy of frivolous arguments by so-called intellectuals who don't know how much damage they do to society is entirely formidable. I have read the entire collection twice and still find previously undiscovered nuances in many of the essays.

One of the one-star commenters claimed that there is little of substance and poor support for the ideas promulgated by the author. Perhaps he was reading a different book or should be buying a less intellectual class of book as I found a plethora of support for the ideas and am surprised as any thinking person (without an ideological axe to grind) would clearly see what the author meant and why it made sense.

The only problem that I have with the book is a rather poor binding, I wish this site had a better version available so I could buy it for my permanent library. I rated the content, not the binding.

Don't let the binding stop you from buying this book. I would buy it again and may even do so with the currently available binding.
Little of substance  Apr 24, 2009
I bought this hoping for some ideas, and some substance. There are plenty of ideas, but so little support for them, it is hardly more than a collection of one-liners. He claims that those darn liberals have no substance for their programs, but does not provide any details for his own ideas. It reads like a collection of essays he must have published in a newspaper somewhere, stretching each claim into an entire column buttressed by at most one or two anecdotes.
Sowell is a genius  Apr 22, 2009
Thomas never gets the credit he deserves. His ideas, his writings, and his skills in explaining such topics are unmatched! A must-read for everyone with a concern for society and humanity. Sowell is a a top thinker!!
Sowell Takes on the "Mush Heads" and "Mealy Mouths"  Dec 6, 2008
For such a learned scholar (who has written such technical books as "Culture and Conquest"), Thomas Sowell writes some of the most delightful popular essays. "Ever Wonder Why" is a collection of his newspaper essays written in the last few years.

Sowell is very much a conservative with liberarian tendencies. (In one essay, he calls himself a "conservative radical.") For those who would classify themselves similarly, there is much to love in these essaya. For all others, hang on to your hats.

The book is divided into seven sections: (1) The Culture Wars, (2) Economic Issues, (3) Legal Issues, (4) Poiitical Issues, (5) Social Issues, (6) Educational Issues, and (7) Racial Issues. While the essay topics are quite varied - from the economic harms of environmental politics to whether race correlates with IQ - there are somseveral reoccurring themes.

As Sowell is a (world class) economist, the strongest theme is that no matter how much some might wish differently, the fact is that the world functions by economic principles. Supply and demand are not evil; it is just the way we all think. Policies that try and usurp people's ability to set their own prices and make their own econmic decision will (almost?) always lead to less efficiency and more waste. Sowell explains this by examining things like tariffs, environmental regulations, and housing codes (all straight from the headlines!)

Another big theme is what Sowell calls the "tyranny of visions" (see his books "Vision of the Annointed" and "Conflict of Visions" for book-length treatments.) Here, Sowell excoriates those who quest, chimerically, after policies without a downside and ignore the FACT that ALL policies need to be examined as trade-offs between benefits and costs. Want to save the wetlands? First, think about the cost of not building on that land. Want to make cars safer? First, think about whether you are inadvertently hurting those who suddenly cannot afford the resulting increase in the price of vehicles. The 'tyranny of ideology' that Sowell notes is letting one's zeal for a certain vision blind one to any downsides or costs incurred as a result.

As an educator, my favorite section was that on "educational issues." Sowell is quite hard on the current trends towards less academics and more "self-esteem" in schools, and the gradual lowering of standards. In the name of an egalitarian vision where all children are equal in all respects, we are gradually shunning rigor for the sake of making all children "feel good" (until they realize that they can't read, and then we label them with learning disabilities.)

For all of this, I do have to point out that occasionally, Sowell is inconsistent and just plain wrong. Where Sowell rails about the virtues of small government, he is quite a proponent of abn expansive war on terror. While he extols the virtue of a "strict construction" interpretation of the constitution, in another essay he suggests that the Constitution protects freedom of contract (which is nowhere in the text). Sowell also wrongly defines "judicial activism" as times when judges take a "broad" reading of the Constituiton (rather than the law-school definition of times when judges strike down laws enacted by legislative bodies).

Disagreements aside, I whole-heartedly reccomend this book. As a coleection of short editorial-style essays, one is not going to get much sustained analysis here, it is still a great book of learned opinions written in a very readable style. It will make any "conservative radical" (or libertarian) proud!
I've often wondered why more people don't wonder  May 10, 2008
A very entertaining look at our modern culture. Each essay challenges us to think about issues that should be obvious, but apparantly aren't for a large segment of the population. It seems as though we have met the enemy, and it is us. A real eye opener, I'd be very interested in seeing what all of these annointed folks would come up with to counter Mr. Sowell's views.

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