Spanning several decades, this collection of articles is a fair representation of the opinions of someone who is responsible for instigating a lot of research into language theory as well as provoking many into political debate and action. A writer, researcher, political activist, or teacher does not have to always be right in order for them to be judged as effective, and Noam Chomsky is right about issues just as often as he is wrong. He is best when he is encouraging his readers to be skeptical, and given the history of governments one can only approach their analysis from the standpoint of extreme skepticism. No utterance, document (official or unofficial) or decree coming from any government in the world should be believed without in-depth analysis and painstaking research. Time constraints often put a damper on the level of analysis that is required; with the immediate consequence that one must withhold judgment on sometimes very important matters. This makes authors such as Chomsky valuable, in that they summarize events and histories that enable those interested to make better use of their time.
Chomsky can be very loose with facts, as can been seen by perusing some of the articles in this book. For example, when discussing the (illegal and immoral) invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, he states that the United States supplied 90 percent of arms used, but he does not give a reference for this assertion. And in the same article, he refers to an "outstanding Australian specialist" on East Timor describing Fretlin, the political party at the time of the invasion, as "populist Catholic". Chomsky often quotes individuals that he deems as expert in a subject, but he never gives objective criteria for what constitutes an expert. Readers who are not intimidated by authority demand evidence be given for assertions, and it matters not to what degree the person who makes these assertions is held in esteem.
But the greatest contribution that Chomsky has made, and one that is detailed in the article on the responsibility of intellectuals, is that he eloquently speaks out for the joining of actions and words. Too often intellectuals, from both the "right" and the "left", approach critical analysis from the comfort and serenity of the academic armchair. Chomsky encourages active involvement, and understands that a large degree of stoicism and perseverance may be required if one is to make changes in social hierarchies, or even perhaps to dissolve these hierarchies entirely. For this reason Chomsky is not a conservative, for he is not afraid to bring about change in very short periods of time. But he is also not afraid to take on liberals such as John F. Kennedy, who he clearly deplores as is evident by reading some of the articles in this book. No public or governmental figure or nation state is sacred for Chomsky.
Given his current age, Chomsky may be leaving us soon. Some will perhaps rejoice, but even those who strongly disagree with him will certainly miss him, for he gave them incentive to better formulate their own positions and make them distinctive from his. One cannot have a better testament to one's existence than the encouragement of critical thinking.