[Gopnik] never loses sight of his main goal: making people understand what it is because understanding it is understanding the need for it ... a startingly intelligent, passionate, well-researched manifesto, but contains so much that it's impossible to engage with on only one level, or to agree or disagree with its entirety. In fact, while I agreed with most of the book, I found some issues. For example, Gopkin says it's OK to let small things slide in order to focus on the bigger picture. Furthermore, he never engages with scholar and feminist critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's work, which would have enriched and complicated things wonderfully ... one of sharpest contemporary works teaching us about liberalism and convincingly framing it as one of the most powerful tools we have to change our current situation ... Whether readers agree with Gopnik or not, this is an important, timely book that should be required reading because it points to everything that's wrong and then takes it a step further — a crucial step most others fail to take: It offers a viable solution.
Witty, humane, learned, A Thousand Small Sanities is a book that some of its author’s many fans may be tempted to read too fast ... He wants to assimilate and domesticate the illiberal left, to the maximum extent he can. But diverted by the book’s charm and erudition, readers may overlook its more challenging purposes ... what commands Gopnik’s attention is a challenge to his convictions more formidable and more intimate: the resurgence of the illiberal left from the post-Communist wreckage ... A Thousand Small Sanities is a product of the period that some wit has dubbed 'the Great Awokening' ... To a great extent, he is almost as uncomfortable with these dead white giants as any intersectional critic ... Gopnik is alive to the intellectual deficiencies of wokeness.
Gopnik’s attempt to convert [his daughter] to the bare-minimum politics of the late twentieth century frequently lapses into parody and unwittingly exposes the emptiness of the old liberal orthodoxy ... Gopnik’s efforts to give his argument empirical flourishes are random, sloppy, and unpersuasive. But even in the philosophical clouds, where he would clearly prefer to stay, his claims are riddled with tensions ... Gopnik’s familiarity with the Marxist critique of imperialism doesn’t get close to a real engagement with today’s left...Nothing, either, from the expansive constellation of well-known contemporary left publications, nothing on existing left politicians, organizations, or positions that might indicate what socialism in 2019 is really about ... Instead, Gopnik leads us through a fun house of his own random reading and his vague sense of the internet outrage cycle ... rather than seek meaningful explanations, he falls back on ahistorical platitudes ... We might not have expected much more from Gopnik, but A Thousand Small Sanities’ aimless joyride of free-associated clichés and its stubborn refusal to look at reality may indicate more broadly how little the American establishment has learned since the turn of the century ... Gopnik’s blissful ignorance reads not as comical but as deeply sinister.