Do the private practices of intellectuals match the standard of their public principles? How great is their respect for truth? What is their attitude ...Show synopsisDo the private practices of intellectuals match the standard of their public principles? How great is their respect for truth? What is their attitude to money? How do they treat their spouses and children - legitimate and illegitimate? How loyal are they to their friends? Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sartre, Edmund Wilson, Victor Gollancz, Lillian Hellman, Cyril Connolly, Norman Mailer, Kenneth Tynan and many others are put under the spotlight. With wit and brilliance, Paul Johnson exposes these intellectuals, and questions whether ideas should ever be valued more than individuals.Hide synopsis
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Historian Paul Johnson discovers the threads running through the lives of liberal writers, theorists, and thinkers. These utopian liberals treated their own families terribly, tended to have drinking problems, and were far better at telling others how to live their lives than they were at living their own. Other remarkable threads are the lack of divine guidance, the upholding of untested ideas, and the rejection of traditional authority. Yes, Johnson is a conservative - and one of the most insightful historians of our age.
Mr Johnson is a great historian. He may not always be right, but he always makes you think and re-evaluate your assumptions. In the case of this book, which invites us to see the leaden feet of many liberal icons, I would only raise the question of whether or not it was necessary to come down so hard on Bertrand Russell simply because he declined to learn how to make tea.
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