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The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower


reviewed by Neil Smith January 28, 2008

coverTitle: The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower
Author(s): Robert F. Barsky
Publisher: MIT Press, Cambridge
ISBN: 0262026244, Pages: 381, Year: 2007
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Chomsky polarizes people. He attracts vitriolic abuse and sycophantic adulation in equal measure; he is “the most important intellectual in the world” and “the great American crackpot”; his intellectual status is “on a par with that of Darwin or Descartes,” but “everything he says is false.” These conflicting judgements cover all domains: linguistics, philosophy, literary theory, psychology ... but above all politics and international affairs. So there is need for dispassionate analysis, even for passionate analysis if the passion is transparent, and Barsky’s new book promises to provide it: to explain this “Chomsky effect.” At this point I should declare an interest. I too wrote a book about Chomsky (Smith, 1999/2004) and it is clear there that, while occasionally critical, both Barsky and I are basically favourably inclined. It also means that I have read the majority of Chomsky’s enormous output: a hundred books, and innumerable articles, blogs, interviews, letters, recordings... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 28, 2008
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14937, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 11:02:42 AM

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About the Author
  • Neil Smith
    University College London
    E-mail Author
    NEIL SMITH is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at University College London, where he was head of the linguistics department for 34 years. He has published on most areas of linguistics, including a book about Chomsky.
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