Happy birthday, Thomas Sowell
By Trevor Bothwell
Thomas Sowell turned 75 years old on last Thursday (June 30). And I don't know quite where to begin.
My friend Jim Hathaway turned me on to Thomas Sowell's column a little more than four years ago. At that point I'd been reading Ann Coulter's stuff for at least a year, thinking that I had found the zenith of what conservative commentary had to offer. Interestingly enough, I hadn't. And this is no knock on Ann.
After taking Jim's advice and reading only a few articles I was literally embarrassed that I hadn't yet run across Dr. Sowell's work. How could this have evaded me for so long? After all, there was Lowry and Goldberg; Hanson and Nordlinger; O'Reilly and Malkin; Will and Krauthammer. But no Sowell? How could I have encountered all these intriguing minds, these names that appear in alphabetical order along the sidebar of America's most popular online political journals, and not once happened upon the inimitable Thomas Sowell? I will go to my grave with nary a more inexplicable mystery in tow.
Thankfully, anyone who's read Sowell's genius knows that his uncanny ability to explain the most complicated topics in such succinct and understandable language allows one to make up for lost time rather quickly. And make up for lost time I did.
For the last few years I've been addicted to Thomas Sowell. His writing, that is. Lord knows I don't need to be perceived as a stalker. But, in all honesty, that would probably be a pretty good description. To tell you the truth, stalking Thomas Sowell is hard work. I mean, I'm not looking for pity here, but the guy pumps out a column almost three times a week. And if you have any predilection whatsoever for getting a good night's sleep, don't start one of his books because you won't be able to put it down.
I guess that explains why I've been so tired at work the past few years. It's actually hard to keep up with the man. Not bad for a guy in his 70s, I'd say.
On a more serious note, I am forever indebted to Thomas Sowell for Basic Economics and Applied Economics. Considering what it would cost to get a degree in economics today, these books are a godsend. I honestly believe that these two works alone are the equivalent of two years of economics coursework at just about any undergraduate college. If faced with the choice of paying for six college courses or shelling out 50 bucks for a couple books, I'll choose the books every time. Of course, Dr. Sowell doesn't include one of those fancy diplomas with his books, but believe me, he could.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Thomas Sowell's writing is the feeling you get after reading it. Whether an 800-word column or an entire book, you finish it thinking to yourself, "This is his best one yet!" And it is. Until the next one. The first Sowell book I ever read was The Vision of the Anointed, and I just knew he had none better. But then I read his economics books. I can barely wait to crack open his latest: Black Rednecks and White Liberals.
I have many, many more Thomas Sowell books to read (The Vision of the Anointed was already his seventeenth). And even though I've got my work cut out for me, God willing, he'll continue to embog me with ever more works of art. Combined with his syndicated column and scholarly publications, I'd say there's a fine chance of that. After all, he's 75 today and hasn't lost a step yet.
Happy Birthday to Thomas Sowell, who is a gift to us all.
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