With the presumption that review essays, and statements written for special occasions may reveal as much about the writer as those written about, Irving Louis Horowitz has collected thirty-five years of his criticism and commentary. Included are comments on the famous, near famous, and infamous sociologists, political scientists, and assorted literary figures in between. Taken as a whole, this volume will surprise and delight readers who are acquainted with Horowitz's other works as well as those who are interested in the people he writes about. Written with characteristic verve and nerve, these statements sometimes combine two or more reviews into one statement, often of substantial length. Altogether the collection gives a picture of twentieth-century social science as an ongoing dialogue within itself about the nature of social reality, as well as the nature of the disciplines seeking to define that reality. The results are sometimes serious, other times amusing, but uniformly compelling. The book covers Arendt to Zetterberg, and such major figures in between as Becker, Bell, de Jouvenel, Mills, Parsons, Solzhenitsyn, and more than eighty other leading lights who have had an effect on the contemporary social landscape. All are critically examined, sometimes positively, other times negatively. Long recognized as a major figure in his own right, Horowitz writes with the kind of refreshing frankness experts will appreciate and the general reader will understand. The underlying assumption behind the volume, giving its disparate parts a unified characteristic, is that together these observations on others amount to a general theory of social science held by the author. Whether his larger ambition is accepted or disputed, there is no doubt that the volume provides a standard against which to measure the literary quality of reviewing in the world of professional social research.
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