Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Phantom Public” as Want to Read:
The Phantom Public
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Phantom Public

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In an era disgusted with politicians and the various instruments of "direct democracy," Walter Lippmann's The Phantom Public remains as relevant as ever. It reveals Lippmann at a time when he was most critical of the ills of American democracy. Antipopulist in sentiment, this volume defends elitism as a serious and distinctive intellectual option, one with considerable pre ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Routledge (first published 1927)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Phantom Public, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Phantom Public

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  102 ratings  ·  11 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Phantom Public
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Walter Lippmann argues that members of the public are but “spectators of action,” (93) not the omnicompetent, sovereign beings assumed in democratic theory; nor is it possible for them to be. This, Lippmann argues, is a false ideal. (28) There are simply too many things to know and too little time to come to know them for anyone — average citizen, empowered elite — to become expert in everything. (28, among others) The make-up of the public varies from issue to issue; a person might be an expert ...more
Feb 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics
I would advise people to read this, and read it slowly. Find out about the man, who he worked with and what he did in the early 1900's. I felt totally annoyed when I finished this book and I'm not sure I know why.

I read a lot but this book made me feel uneasy because I wasn't sure I was getting the intended message and for that I feel annoyed. At times his prose was brilliant, I agreed and yet I wasn't sure I was agreeing with what I would think was true, like he was a politician running for of
Mar 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Margie by: Self
I learned about the bleak outlook with which Progressives view The People. The philosophies made me sick to my stomach because they are elitist and imply that The People don't have rights because they're too stupid to operate as a group. I found it interesting that in the movie "13 Days" that the President leaked disinformation to Lippmann because he knew Lippmann would blab it to the Russians. I thought Communism was dead in this country, but I have been brought back to the sickening reality th ...more
Apr 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: peeps with vague political aspirations
I first read Walter "Cranky Pants" Lippmann my freshman year in college ("Drift and Mastery"); my nocturnal adolescent self particularly cherished his line about how societal norms force intelligent people to conform to sheep-scripts in order to maintain the respect of their peers -- sweet sweet nectar to the brain of someone from a Midwestern nerd-school newly adrift on the Gothic campus of an upper-crusty liberal arts college.

In "The Phantom Public", our favorite grouch directs his ire towards
Eric Gulliver
I believe this quote from the text sums up the general framework:

“The fundamental difference which matters is that between insiders and outsiders. Their relations to a problem are radically different. Only the insiders can make decisions, not because he is inherently a better man but because he is so placed that he can understand and can act. The outsider is necessarily ignorant, usually irrelevant and often meddlesome, because he is trying to navigate the ship from dry land. – In short, like th
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
I came to read this some years ago after reading Noam Chomsky reference the book numerous times. This is a more entertaining read than Public Opinion, both more clearly cynical and also written in a much more chummy style. It's at times thought provoking.
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Super pessimistic about the average person. I loved every word of it.
Sep 01, 2011 marked it as wishlist
I would like this in the Kindle Edition, when it comes available.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Référence indispensable pour les réflexions sur la notion de "public"; à lire en dialogue avec Dewey, Le public et ses problèmes.
Heather Bielecki
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Somewhat pessimistic about democracy without really any concrete solutions for alternatives except to leave it to the 'insiders'. However, it is classic poli sci literature.
Manda Lea
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oldie, but a goodie.
rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2017
Jon Abraham
rated it it was amazing
Aug 17, 2014
rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2014
rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2009
rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2013
Jennifer Bernstein
rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2012
Kevin Ells
rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2019
Aaron Geiger
rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2013
Amanda Frame
rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2017
Michael Burns
rated it liked it
Aug 19, 2013
Jennifer Rauch
rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2019
Rick Sadlier
rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2012
rated it liked it
Aug 12, 2017
rated it really liked it
Dec 20, 2011
Vanja Petrovic
rated it did not like it
Jun 19, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Feb 09, 2015
rated it did not like it
Mar 01, 2010
rated it did not like it
Jan 21, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Life: The Science of Biology
  • Tales of Desire
  • Lives of Girls and Women
  • On Ugliness
  • Infinite Jest
  • A Question of Power
  • An Economic Theory of Democracy
  • The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
  • Starving the Beast: Ronald Reagan and the Tax Cut Revolution
  • Dubliners
  • The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere:An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society
  • The Public and its Problems
  • Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
  • The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
  • Weaving the Dark Web: Legitimacy on Freenet, Tor, and I2P (Information Society Series)
  • What Are We Doing Here?
  • Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics
  • Head First PMP
See similar books…
Walter Lippmann was an American intellectual, writer, reporter, and political commentator who gained notoriety for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War. Lippmann was twice awarded (1958 and 1962) a Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated newspaper column, "Today and Tomorrow."

News & Interviews

They’re baaaaaaack! Young adult vampires, that is. Fifteen years after Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight took the world by storm, we’re seeing a brand...
46 likes · 24 comments
“These various remedies, eugenic, educational, ethical, populist and socialist, all assume that either the voters are inherently competent to direct the course of affairs or that they are making progress towards such an ideal. I think [democracy] is a false ideal.” 6 likes
“All men desire their own perfect adjustment, but they desire it, being finite men, on their own terms.” 6 likes
More quotes…