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Blacks Make a Decent Showing on List of the World's Top Public Intellectuals:

A poll conducted by the British intellectual journal Prospect and the American magazine Foreign Policy has ranked the world's 100 leading public intellectuals from a list compiled by the editorial boards of both publications.

Leading the list was Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the balloting, Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist and literary critic, finished in second place but well behind Chomsky. English biologist Richard Dawkins was third, followed by Czech playwright and former president Vaclav Havel and journalist Christopher Hitchens.

Several blacks were on the list of the top 100 public intellectuals. The highest finisher was Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist, in 38th position. Harvard's Henry Louis Gates Jr. was rated the 57th leading public intellectual in the world. Other blacks on the list include Nigerian novelist Wole Soyinka, Kenyan-born Ali Mazrui, who now holds an endowed chair in the humanities at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and Florence Wambugu, a Kenyan plant pathologist and crusader against world hunger.

The editors of the two publications also asked people to nominate other public intellectuals who were not included on the list compiled by the editors. Among the top 20 nominees on this second list were Princeton professor Cornel West, syndicated columnist, economist, and author Thomas Sowell, and Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa.

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