Patterico's Pontifications


The Thomas Sowell Reader: A Review

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

Thomas Sowell is one of those authors most people know from his columns. But to me, his real strengths come across in his books. He is someone who doesn’t just make pronouncements from on high. He makes an assertion and then he backs it up, with example after factual example. His columns are too short for this sort of evidence-based argument, and so if you know him only from his columns, you owe it to yourself to check out his books.

Last night I finished The Thomas Sowell Reader, a 449-page book that samples the entirety of Sowell’s output. If you haven’t read Sowell’s books before, this is a great way to start. The book is divided by subject matter, and includes actual newspaper columns and whimsical short thoughts as well as longer pieces. When I didn’t feel like reading another book, this is the one I always picked up. I didn’t take notes, but there is great wisdom in here that will change the way you look at (and think about) the world. Sowell shows, with relentless facts, why different races or ethnicities have different outcomes, and probably always will. Like Charles Murray, he emphasizes the need to analyze the results of government policies by looking at long-term trend lines (e.g., poverty was already being solved before the War on Poverty, which halted our progress rather than helping us). He shows how the left’s incessant insistence on tinkering with society routinely leads to unintended consequences that hurt the poor and minorities. He shows how the free market is the greatest engine for economic advancement known to man. And he has essays about baseball, old-fashioned values, the need to ignore political correctness, and all manner of other topics.

A couple of things that stood out for me were a relatively short but very interesting biographical sketch of Karl Marx, whom Sowell studied intensely in his younger years. You will long remember Sowell’s portrayal of Marx’s contempt for other people and willingness to rely upon — and fritter away — other people’s money. Sowell also has an amusing and heartwarming set of autobiographical reflections at the end of the book. I have always wondered what Sowell’s background was, how he came to be so smart and such a clear writer and thinker, and where his values came from. Now I have a much better idea.

Check out The Thomas Sowell reader at this link. If you’re unfamiliar with Sowell’s book-length writings, you’re in for a treat.

7 Responses to “The Thomas Sowell Reader: A Review”

  1. It can not be said enough.

    Thomas Sowell was also a Marine.

    Steve57 (eca648)

  2. Black Rednecks and White Liberals opened my eyes to black and white history.

    mg (31009b)

  3. Brother Sowell (we are both members of Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE) an international honor society in the field of economics) has written many books. Not one of them is without merit and I believe that I have read them all and I have some in hardcover and more on my Kindle. I guess I will purchase this book also.

    Michael Keohane (639473)

  4. Thomas Sowell is one of America’s treasures. I’d like to buy the man a beer.

    ropelight (0760d5)

  5. Thomas Sowell is one of America’s treasures. I’d like to buy the man a beer.

    ropelight (0760d5) — 5/16/2016 @ 6:46 am

    I’d like to consider the man for President.

    Bill H (971e5f)

  6. Interesting statistic

    So the percentage of people in the labor force is down (to where ot was before many women worked) but the percentage over age 65 working is up.

    The low was in 1982 and it is back or past what iit was in 1965.

    Sammy Finkelman (643dcd)

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