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Late Admissions Confessions of a Black Conservative

By Glenn C. Loury

About the Book

A shockingly frank memoir from a prize-winning economist, reflecting on his remarkable personal odyssey and his changing positions on identity, race, and belief.

Economist Glenn C. Loury is one of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time: he’s often radically opposed to the political mainstream, and delights in upending what’s expected of a Black public figure. But more so than the arguments themselves—on affirmative action, institutional racism, Trumpism—his public life has been characterized by fearlessness and a willingness to recalibrate strongly held and forcefully argued beliefs.

Loury grew up on the south side of Chicago, earned a PhD in MIT’s economics program, and became the first Black tenured professor of economics at Harvard at the age of thirty-three. He has been, at turns, a young father, a drug addict, an adulterer, a psychiatric patient, a born-again Christian, a lapsed born-again Christian, a Black Reaganite who has swung from the right to the left and back again. In Late Admissions, Loury examines what it means to chart a sense of self over the course of a tempestuous, but well-considered, life.

About the Author

Glenn C. Loury, a prominent social critic, is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and professor of economics at Brown University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.


"This is not a book about politics. It is a gripping bildungsroman of a conservative black American as he makes his way from obscurity to prominence—and the toll that journey took on himself and those around him. Glenn Loury has written a raw portrait of achievement and irresponsibility, vulnerability and self-deception. His courage and devotion to truth-telling are humbling."
 —Mark Lilla, author of The Once and Future Liberal

"This book is a revelation in more ways than one. It reveals secrets, often unflattering ones, to persuade the skeptical reader that more flattering claims are credible. It reveals the beautiful cultural richness of a segregated community in Chicago that is often stereotyped and maligned. It reveals a remarkable path from community college to the highest reaches of academia by a nineteen-year-old father of two. And it reveals the striking originality and curiosity that has defined an undulating career with lurches in ideological positioning, but a consistency of thought and an absolute commitment to rigor. Most of all, this deeply American story is revealing of America."
 —Rajiv Sethi, Professor of Economics, Barnard College

"Glenn Loury has long been the most formidable of recent black conservative intellectuals—the most thoughtful, eloquent, learned, impassioned. With Late Admissions he shows himself remarkably willing to engage in candid self-revelation. His memoir offers a unique peek into the psyche of a distinguished scholar who came close to destroying himself but ultimately found inspiring self-acceptance."
 —Randall Kennedy, author of Say It Loud! On Race, History, and Culture

"Breathtakingly good, and extraordinarily candid. Loury is perhaps the best writer of nonfiction in America, but Late Admissions advances well beyond that. Its self-reflexive, ‘house of mirrors’ structure reminds me of Amor Towles’ prizewinning fiction. Even more deeply, the book has forced me to interrogate my own reactions to it."
 —Robert D. Putnam, New York Times best-selling author of Bowling Alone

"Glenn Loury is quite simply one of the sharpest, most original minds in the country. His life traces an unbelievable trajectory—from teenage parenthood and community college to the uppermost echelons of academia and public thinking, with pit stops at substance abuse and evangelical Christianity—that has left him with a hard-won wisdom that is at once all-American and wholly sui generis. Plus he’s wickedly funny. Loury is a national treasure, and Late Admissions will challenge, provoke, and dazzle you."
 —Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Self-Portrait in Black and White