Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Russell Jacoby's review of Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias.

I have often noted that academia often appears to adhere to a code of civility in reviewing colleagues' books: politely point out a error of fact here, a disagreement there, but don't savage a colleagues' book because you might be next. Dr. Jacoby doesn't feel compelled to honor this unwritten code:
In a blurb, Michael Burawoy, a previous president of the American Sociological Association and a prominent leftist sociologist, calls the book “encyclopedic” in its breadth and “daunting” in its ambition. He states, “Only a thinker of Wright’s genius could sustain such a badly needed political imagination without losing analytical clarity and precision.” With the correction that Wright is no genius and that the book is suffocatingly narrow in scope, impossibly cramped in imagination, and irreparably muddy in execution, the blurb is accurate.
While I can't speak to the veracity of this scathing critique, a part of me finds it rather refreshing (if somewhat frightening).

1 comment:

  1. Evidently the humanities and social sciences are typically somewhat kinder than the so-called hard sciences. From what I understand, in fields such as physics or medicine, such a review would be par for the course.