Book Review: A Personal Odyssey by Thomas Sowell

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A polarizing figure among many circles Thomas Sowell is best known for an author of sharp words and well researched opinions, but what he has often alluded to throughout the years is the humble beginnings of a journey that inadvertently lead him to the prominence he has achieved in life.  This book narrates that process.
    Early in the text Sowell explains that he doesn’t intend the book to be an autobiography.  He briefly explains that a text of that title would have to be more exhaustive about some features of his life that he would prefer to move past in writing.  Like all of Sowell’s books the text reads well and flows cleanly from idea to idea and incident to incident.
    Sowell style of writing from his other works has a moralistic tone based upon his research on a particular subject.  In this book the subject is himself, and after years of long reflection he applies that same tone of writing to the experiences of his own life.  
    And what a life!
    Sowell’s story begins in absolute poverty in the south where his father knowing he was dying and leaving behind a pregnant wife worked to have the unborn child raised by more affluent relatives within the family.  Affluence at the time was relative and although Thomas’ situation was much improved it was far from anything of opulence.  
    At a young age his family moved to New York City unintentionally sparing him from some of the effects of racism in the south.  Due to its prevalence generally across society Sowell had several encounters where he was discriminated against for the color of his skin.  He tells of his stubbornness as a young man removing himself from what had become a destructive situation with relatives and beginning life on his own.  
    With the clean precision of a highly professional author Thomas narrates his time in the Marine Corps and experiences with academia.  Both parts of his life clearly demonstrate his journey to discover his own technique for thoughtful constructive reasoning.  Any critic of Sowell’s ideas has within these pages the ability to appreciate the odyssey that helped forge those ideas.  
    This is a book I would easily recommend to my children as they are more likely to glean from its pages tools that will help them through life than many of the other things currently in print.