In 2005, the British magazine, Prospect, held a write-in contest to select the top public intellectual of the year — the winner was Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political activist. This year, the editors alone decided to name General David Petraeus as the intellectual having the most impact in 2008.
Prospect was against the war in Iraq. But we know an original thinker when we see one, especially one who uses brainpower to achieve change in the most difficult of circumstances. He is a worthy winner.
Margaret Atwood placed third in the competition.
Atwood’s new collection Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was timely, from a writer and thinker who consistently manages to grapple with complex and political themes in her fiction and non-fiction.
Brian Gable has created a wonderful series of original Prospect public intellectual top trump cards. Below is his card for Margaret Atwood.