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Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell

(Basic Books, 2021)

A conversation with Jason Riley, Senior fellow, Manhattan Institute; member, Wall Street Journal editorial board, moderated by Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus of Cato’s Free Thoughts podcast.
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Featuring
Jason Riley

Senior fellow, Manhattan Institute; member, Wall Street Journal editorial board

Thomas Sowell is one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than half a century, few scholars have matched his combination of range, rigor, and accessibility. He has written more than 30 books covering topics including economic history, social inequality, political philosophy, race, migration, and culture. His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endeared him to many but enraged most of his fellow intellectuals, the civil rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. As a result, critics preoccupied with political correctness have demeaned, downplayed, or ignored his important contributions.

In this first‐​ever biography of Sowell, Wall Street Journal columnist Jason L. Riley gives this iconic thinker his due, responds to the detractors, and explains their motives. Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell (Basic Books, May 2021) not only showcases Sowell’s most significant writings but also vividly traces the life events that shaped his ideas and resulted in a black orphan from the Jim Crow South going on to graduate from Harvard University, earn a PhD under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, teach economics at Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles, and spend the past four decades as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals.

Drawing on firsthand conversations with Sowell, and interviews with close friends and colleagues, Riley offers a nuanced portrait of one of America’s leading conservative intellectuals. Maverick shines a light on the extraordinary scope and depth of Sowell’s work, exploring where he has distinguished himself and how he is likely to be remembered.

Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of several books, including Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell cover
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Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell

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.

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