ISBN: 9780262267854 | 255 pp. | July 1998

Noam Chomsky

A Life of Dissent

This biography describes the intellectual and political milieus that helped shape Noam Chomsky, a pivotal figure in contemporary linguistics, politics, cognitive psychology, and philosophy. It also presents an engaging political history of the last several decades, including such events as the Spanish Civil War, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the march on the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. The book highlights Chomsky's views on the uses and misuses of the university as an institution, his assessment of useful political engagement, and his doubts about postmodernism. Because Chomsky is given ample space to articulate his views on many of the major issues relating to his work, both linguistic and political, this book reads like the autobiography that Chomsky says he will never write.

Barsky's account reveals the remarkable consistency in Chomsky's interests and principles over the course of his life. The book contains well-placed excerpts from Chomsky's published writings and unpublished correspondence, including the author's own years-long correspondence with Chomsky.

*Not for sale in Canada

Table of Contents

  1. Illustrations
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. The Milieu That Formed Chomsky
  4. Introduction
  5. 1. Family, Hebrew School, Grade School
  6. 2. Zellig Harris, Avukah, and Hashomer Hatzair
  7. 3. Humboldt and the Cartesian Tradition
  8. II. The Milieu That Chomsky Helped to Create
  9. 4. The Intellectual, the University, and the State
  10. 5. The Intellectual as Commissar
  11. Conclusion
  12. Afterword
  13. Notes
  14. Works Consulted
  15. Index