This book should be named The Other Side of Left-Wing Intellectuals
. It is very misleading to just say Intellectuals
because it made me expect that it would talk about prominent thinkers and would analyze their thoughts and their influences, etc.
Well, Johnson does discuss their thoughts, but more importantly, he discusses the personal stories of these people and show how hideous, immoral, cruel, hypocrite, liars they actually are. After reading this book, I think I can never really accept these men and women and will read their writings and ideas with strong scepticism. While Johnson's book is very close to committing a logical fallacy (attacking the arguers rather than their arguments), I find these intellectuals' morals a very important aspect, in fact, a deciding factor. I cannot judge the accuracy of these accounts but sometimes the evidence is too strong to ignore and no matter how hard I try to stay objective and distanced, I cannot help but feel disgusted by these men at the end of the book.
Anyway, that is another problem with Johnson's book. His voice is very negative, sometimes condescending and most of the time contemptuous, which I find very difficult to digest. More than dozens of figures are featured and all of them are painted so bad, bad, bad. Is it really the case? Was our society really that blind to accept their influences? There must be something good about their thoughts, right? I don't know, I'm quite ignorant now. But I know one thing: I grow tired. And then, all of them are on the left - well, I question the author's agenda then. Intellectuals
is skewed badly to the left and virtually none of those featured come from the right, not to mention that more than half of them are from the 20th century and involved strongly with the communists' activities. Perhaps the author could not help it. Intellectuals was written in 1988 when the Soviet Union was not yet dissolved.
Still, I sympathize with Johnson's underlying argument: people come first before ideas. Therefore, 3.5 stars.