In these impassioned and inspiring essays, based on his 1993 Reith Lectures, Edward Said explores what it means to be an intellectual today.
Are intellectuals merely the servants of special interests or do they have a larger responsibility? In these wide-ranging essays, one of our most brilliant and fiercely independent public thinkers addresses this question with extraordinary eloquence. Said sees the the intellectual as an exile and amateur whose role it is “to speak the truth to power” even at the risk of ostracism or imprisonment. Drawing on the examples of Jonathan Swift and Theodor Adorno, Robert Oppenheimer and Henry Kissinger, Vietnam and the Gulf War, Said explores the implications of this idea and shows what happens when intellectuals succumb to the lures of money, power, or specialization.