Today is Thomas Sowell’s 90th birthday, and I want to wish him a very happy one.

Sowell may also be happy today that he’s been retired for several years, because chronicling our current mess is not fun, although I would dearly love to read or hear what he has to say about it. For many decades, Sowell was one of the most brilliant, clearest, no-nonsense voices in America, although it was mostly the right who listened to him.

Thomas Sowell was also the writer who influenced me most during my political change. Until I read his books about seventeen years ago (I think the first one I encountered may have been The Vision of the Anointed, but another extremely important one for me was The Quest for Cosmic Justice), I just had a vague and growing dissatisfaction with the left, the Democrats, and especially the press. But I had no framework in which to place those perceptions, no overview that made sense of them.

Sowell provided that. I had no sooner read a few pages of his thoughts when I breathed a sigh of relief. At last! Someone who made sense. And to think, he’d already been writing for many years at that point and I’d never before heard of him.

I’ve read many of his books since, including his autobiography A Personal Odyssey. Sowell is what used to be called a rugged individualist. He went his own way, and didn’t suffer fools gladly. His work should be known by so many more people than it is. I hope he’s doing well, and I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Here’s some vintage Sowell from 1995. Enjoy:

[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]

[ADDENDUM: On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Sowell has released a new book entitled Charter Schools and Their Enemies. He still seems to be going strong.]


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