Paul Johnson examines whether intellectuals are morally fit to give advice to humanity.
Do the private practices of intellectuals match the standard of their public principles?
How great is their respect for truth? What is their attitude to money? How do they treat their spouses and children – legitimate and illegitimate? How loyal are they to their friends?
Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sartre, Edmund Wilson, Victor Gollancz, Lillian Hellman, Cyril Connolly, Norman Mailer, Kenneth Tynan and many others are put under the spotlight. With wit and brilliance, Paul Johnson exposes these intellectuals, and questions whether ideas should ever be valued more than individuals.