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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262024181 | 256 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 1997
Paperback | $22.95 Short | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262522557 | 256 pp. | 6 x 9 in | July 1998
Not for sale in Canada.

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 The book contains well-placed excerpts from Chomsky's published writings and unpublished correspondence, including the author's own years-long correspondence with Chomsky.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

About the Author

Robert Franklin Barsky is a professor and Chair of the French and Italian Department at Vanderbilt University. He is an expert on Noam Chomsky, literary theory, convention refugees, immigration and refugee law, borders, work through the Americas, and Montreal.


“... a remarkably comprehensive biography.... Barsky makes Chomsky the person more visible than ever before.”
Michael G. Wessells, Contemporary Psychology
“[A] detailed and perceptive survey of Chomsky's life and work.”
Raphael Salkie, Times Higher Education Supplement
“For over thirty years Noam Chomsky has been a pathbreaking linguist and a controversial critic of American policies and politics. Indeed, the world seems to divide between those who revere and those who revile Chomsky. Both groups would find valuable Robert F. Barsky's appreciative biography; he recounts (the known and the little known) facts of Chomsky's life, evaluates his linguistic contribution and surveys the main quarrels. This is an essential book not only for Chomsky affecionados and adversaries, but for all students of American political and intellectual life.”
Russell Jacoby, UCLA