​Falk, Richard (2021) Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim. Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press. 474 pp.

​ISBN: 978-1-949762-32-7

Peter Wallensteen

Uppsala University

Read more about this book: www.claritypress.com

​In this 'political memoir', internationally respected scholar of international law, Richard Falk, at 90 gives a frank and personal account of his evolution to a 'citizen pilgrim'. Falk has made considerable contributions to international law. His notable four volume work The Vietnam War and International Law (1968–76) was central in the legal debates around the Vietnam War. Falk became a well-known critic of the American military strategies during presidents Johnson and Nixon. His engagement made him visit Vietnam twice during the war and he brought three American prisoners of war back to the US in 1972. The Vietnam War experiences convinced Falk that necessary political change requires major social movements but also that academics can play significant roles. His memoir also gives a close account of his involvement in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution in 1978, and his assignment as a special rapporteur on occupied Palestine in the early 2000s for the UN Human Rights Council. These experiences, as well as his commitment against nuclear weapons and for global governance (without global government!) have served to reinforce Falk's view of the determining role of social forces for change. His present book is not only of interest to those who lived through the same times as Falk, but also for those reflecting on the contributions of academics for justice, peace and environment. Falk tries to formulate a personally coherent position. It is for the reader to judge whether he succeeds. Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim is elegant, personal, relevant and thought-provoking. It would have been perfect with a less sketchy index and a bibliography at least of Falk's books.