Big Brains, Small Impact

20 years ago, the author chided his peers for their academic insularity. They roared in outrage. Of course, no one heard them.

Twenty years ago, I published The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, which put into circulation the term "public intellectual." I offered a generational explanation for what I saw as the eclipse of younger intellectuals. Why in 1987 had the same intellectuals dominated for more than 20 years, with few new faces among them? Why was it