"The question of the public intellectual is very much in the air again," writes Alan Wolfe. As one of our eminent social commentators, Wolfe should know; he's been writing, with fierce intellectual independence, about American public and private life since the 1960s.
In this new collection of essays spanning seven years of contributions to The New Republic, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and other prominent publications, Wolfe displays the courage necessary to write honestly—yet free of ideology, cant, and piety—about the things Americans take very seriously.
Wolfe thinks big; indeed, the essays in An Intellectual in Public confront many of the most controversial issues of our time: country, God, race, sex, material consumption, and left and right. Beginning and ending the book are original essays describing the public intellectual's role, and how Wolfe believes that role ought to be filled.
An Intellectual in Public is not only a demonstration of Wolfe's pointed analytical skills but a testament to his belief that "severely ideological thinking" is inappropriate for some of our most difficult problems, and that "neither the right nor the left can speak for all of America."
Alan Wolfe is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life and also Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He is the author of over a dozen books, including One Nation After All: What Middle Class Americans Really Think About: God, Country, Family, Racism, Welfare, Immigration, Homosexuality, Work, the Right, the Left and Each Other.