One of the greatest virtues of a liberal arts education, Fareed Zakaria argues in his new book, is that “it teaches you how to write, and writing makes you think.”

Zakaria’s forthcoming “In Defense of a Liberal Education” is the CNN host’s fifth book — and the first since accusations of plagiarism and insufficient attribution were made against some of his past writing. After apologizing for his “terrible mistake” in 2012, when a Time column he wrote included passages that closely tracked an earlier New Yorker article by Jill Lepore, Zakaria was briefly suspended by the magazine. Last year, anonymous bloggers at Our Bad Media accused him of plagiarism in previous columns, dating back several years. Slate, Newsweek and The Washington Post (where Zakaria is a columnist) have since appended notes to selected columns, noting insufficient attribution. In a statement, Zakaria dismissed the accusations, saying they focused mainly on statistics and facts that were widely known, “not someone else’s writing or opinions or expressions.”

“In Defense of Liberal Education” is a slim volume, only 204 pages, and 29 of those pages (roughly 14 percent of the book) are dedicated to endnotes that detail Zakaria’s source material. This is a greater proportion than in Zakaria’s 2008 bestseller “The Post-American World,” which featured seven pages of endnotes out of 292 total pages (about two percent), or his 2003 book, “The Future of Freedom,” which included 11 pages of endnotes out of 286 pages (just under four percent). Zakaria declined to comment on whether the more expansive sourcing was related to the controversy.


Zakaria introduces the endnotes to “In Defense of a Liberal Education” with this explanation:

Liberal education is a topic on which many excellent books have been written. I have used a few footnotes in the text to highlight particular works on which I relied for some historical background. The rest of my sources are acknowledged in these endnotes.
— Fareed Zakaria, “In Defense of a Liberal Education” (2015)

In “The Future of Freedom,” Zakaria also illuminated his thinking behind the book’s endnotes:

This is not a work of historical scholarship. The book’s contribution to the debate, if any, is in its ideas and argument. Thus the endnotes are mostly meant to identify a striking piece of information, or provide the reference for an unusual quote. The rule of thumb I used was, if I thought a general reader might wonder, “Where did that come from?” I’ve provided the answer. If I have relied on a secondary source for general insights I have usually mentioned it in the text, but I may have also cited it here.
— Fareed Zakaria, “The Future of Freedom” (2003)

“In Defense of a Liberal Education” will be published March 30 by W.W. Norton & Co.

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