Bill Moyers created A World of Ideas because he felt we were locked away in the prison cells of our "parochial loyalties". The ideas he presents to us from these public thinkers can release us from these self-imposed constraints. They ask us to examine perspectives we didn't know existed - or if acquainted - didn't have the time to explore.

This sharing of ideas is a way we can find freedom at two levels. One level is personal intellectual freedom. The other is societal freedom to explore our obligations of citizenship and the spiritual opportunities it provides. Mr. Moyers says

"I am especially struck by the extent to which each person in this book
believes that the life of the mind and the life of the republic are inseparable"
(from the Introduction, A World of Ideas)

Bill Moyers is an idea cartographer. He speaks to explorers and makes an initial map. Armed with that map and guided by Mr. Moyers we orienteer through intellectual landscapes considered too rugged. Yet he steers a path through the rocky outcroppings, then asks us to pause at the top of the ridge. We can easily see Lake Superior off one side of the ridge and a forest valley off the other. Bill Moyers guides our attention to subtleties otherwise missed: the difference between the color of the foliage on either side of the ridge. Ironically, the warmth of Lake Superior, one of the coldest freshwater lakes, maintains the green of summer on the one side while the cool September air creates the glittering reds and golds of autumn on the other side.

A World of Ideas metaphorically foreshadowed Everything2 when Bill Moyers states in the Introduction:

"Sharing is the essence of civilization."


This is a summary of the two books and the Public Television (PBS) series hosted by Bill Moyers entitled A World of Ideas. He engaged leading thinkers in 1988 to provide insight into American culture. These conversations occurred during the presidential elections that resulted in George Bush assuming that Office.

Book 1: A World of Ideas

A. Our Changing American Values

  1. Barbara Tuchman, Historian, converses on
  2. Michael Josephson, Ethicist,
  3. Joseph Heller, Novelist,
  4. Noam Chomsky, Linguist,
  5. Tom Wolf, Writer,
  6. William Julius Wilson, Sociologist,
  7. E. L. Doctorow, Novelist,
  8. Sheldon Wolin, Political Philosopher,
  9. Forest McDonald, Historian,
  10. Willard Gaylin, Bioethicist,
  11. Anne Wortham, Sociologist,
  12. T. Berry Brazelton, Pediatrician,
  13. Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Educator,
  14. August Wilson, Playwright,
  15. Vartan Gregorian, Educator,
  16. James McGregor Burns, Historian,
  17. John Searle, Philosopher,
  18. Arturo Madrid, Educator,
  19. Henry Steele Commager, Historian,
  20. Sissela Bok, Ethicist,
  21. Steven Weinberg, Physician,

B. American Values in the new Global Society

  1. Isaac Asimov, Writer,
  2. Robert Bellah, Sociologist,
  3. Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Environmental Scientist,
  4. Chen Ning Yang, Physicist,
  5. David Puttnam, Filmmaker
  6. Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Novelist,
  7. Mary Catherine Bateson, Anthropologist,
  8. Leon R. Kass, Biologist & Philosopher,
  9. Elaine Pagels, Historian of Religion,
  10. Maxine Singer, Geneticist,
  11. Peter Drucker, Management Professor,
  12. F. Forest Church, Pastor,
  13. Derek Walcott, Poet,
  14. John Lukacs, Historian
  15. Martha Nussbaum, Classicist & Philosopher,
  16. Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris, Writers,
  17. Mary Ann Glendon, Law Professor, ruminates on
  18. Peter Berger, Sociologist,
  19. Northrop Frye, Canadian Literary Critic,
  20. Carlos Fuentes, Mexican Novelist,


Book 2: A World of Ideas II

A. Imagining Ourselves

  1. Bharati Mukherjee, Novelist,
  2. Maxine Hong Kingston, Writer,
  3. Peter Sellars, Theater Director,
  4. Leo Braudy, Literary Historian,
  5. Patricia Smith Churchland, Neurophilosopher,

B. Imagining Others

  1. Jeannette Haien, Musician,
  2. Toni Morrison, Novelist,
  3. Sam Keen, Philosopher,
  4. Evelyn Fox Keller, Science Historian,
  5. Richard Rodriguez, Writer,

C. Facing Each Other

  1. M.F.K. Fisher, Essayist,
  2. Cornel West, Cultural Critic,
  3. Tu Wei-ming, Historian and Confucian Thinker,
  4. Joanne Ciulla, Ethicist,
  5. Ruth Macklin, Bioethicist,

D. Facing the World

  1. Ernesto J. Cortes, Jr., Organizer,
  2. Michael Sandel, Political Philosopher,
  3. Jacob Needleman, Philosopher,
  4. Steven Rockefeller, Professor of Religion,
  5. Oren Lyons, Onondaga Chief,
  6. Murray Gell-Mann, Physicist,

E. Looking Ahead

  1. Robert Lucky, Engineer,
  2. Louis Kelso, Capitalist,
  3. Mike Rose, Teacher,
  4. Lester Brown, Environmentalist,
  5. Jonas Salk, Medical Researcher,

F. Looking Back

  1. William L. Shirer, Journalist,
  2. John Henry Faulk, Humorist,

G. Looking Within

  1. Robert Bly, Poet,


"Bill Moyers A World of Ideas: Conversations with Thoughtful Men and Women About American Life Today and the Ideas Shaping Our Future", edited by Betty Sue Flowers, Doubleday, New York, 1989. ISBN 0-385-26346-5 (paper)

"Bill Moyers A World of Ideas II: Public Opinions from Private Citizens", edited by Andie Tucker, Doubleday, New York, 1990. ISBN 0-385-41665-2 (paper)

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