Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell

Jason L. Riley. Basic, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5416-1968-5
Wall Street Journal columnist Riley (Please Stop Helping Us) explores the roots of conservative social theorist Thomas Sowell’s ideas on race, economics, and the “trade-offs between individual liberty and state intervention” in this flattering biography. Riley sketches how Sowell’s background as a Black orphan in 1930s North Carolina and a high school dropout who went on to earn advanced degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago informed his opposition to affirmative action and his belief in the uplifting benefits of free market capitalism for African Americans and other minorities. There are some colorful details about Sowell’s early life (at a Bronx homeless shelter for boys, he “kept a knife under his pillow for protection”), but Riley mainly focuses on how Sowell’s “adherence to empiricism” led him to conclude that the welfare system “pay[s] people to fail,” that sexism does not explain the gender pay gap, and that the “internal cultures” of ethnic groups play a bigger role than discrimination in determining how they fare in the U.S. Along the way, Riley takes potshots at liberal scholars, characterizing their disagreements with Sowell as unsupported by the data and based on willful misreadings of his arguments. Conservatives will cherish this one-sided hagiography; others need not apply. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/15/2021
Release date: 05/25/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 354 pages - 978-0-312-94580-0
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-9187-2
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-1-250-03579-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-7062-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-3809-6
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