The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works beyond the Ivory Tower

By Collins, Richard C. | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works beyond the Ivory Tower


Collins, Richard C., The Virginia Quarterly Review


The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower, by Robert F. Barsky. MIT, October 2007. $29.95

This book should be read by anyone interested in the existing or potential role for public intellectuals in American society and in politics, particularly. Barsky, who has written previously on Chomsky's work in linguistics and in political life, is clearly an admirer, an apologist, and a defender of Chomsky whether it concerns his role as a linguistic theorist, an interpreter of 9/11, or as a petition signer for a French author who questions the authenticity of the Holocaust story. Chomsky, one of the most important public intellectuals today, is worthy of a book devoted solely to his "effects" on others, whether these others are semanticists; Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan populist leader; American Jewish supporters of Israel's actions affecting Palestinians; or punk-rock musicians, many who have adopted him as their intellectual patron saint. But those less interested in Chomsky himself than in the social and cultural dynamics that Barsky describes as the "Chomsky Effect" will find here a challenging set of questions about the role of universities, the media, and intellectuals in public life. …

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