Noam Chomsky. Francis Fukuyama. Anthony Giddens. Christopher Hitchens. Slavoj Zizek. All names that didn’t even make the top 10 in Prospect’s contest to crown 2008’s public intellectual of the year. So who did? Moving on from previous attempts to list the world’s 100 greatest living public intellectuals, this year we decided to name those who had the most impact in 2008 alone. We took soundings—from friends, here on First Drafts and on our Facebook group—to bring up a shortlist. From there it was down to our panel of judges. A three-way contest emerged, between economist Nouriel Roubini, social scientists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, and General David Petraeus. Our judges voted according to type: the wonks liked the Nudge duo, the more economically minded wanted a thinker linked to the credit crunch, while foreign policy watchers thought the soldier-philosopher deserving of the nod. On our website we provide details of all our judges’ votes, and their reasons, along with short bios of all those we considered. Ultimately, though, there could only be one winner. As in Iraq, so in Prospect: Petraeus surged to victory.
Public intellectual of 2008: David Petraeus
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