Schneier designed Blowfish and was involved in the design of Twofish and Skein. When I was starting out, his book "Applied Cryptography" was both inspirational and informative, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was one of the most successful cryptography books ever written.
Schneier has also beeing blogging about security in general for decades; yes, sometimes he necessarily discusses government policy as a result, but I don't see what is wrong with that, or why that would make him a "hack" or "wonk".
His books are inspirational and somewhat informative. That means he is a successful author of cryptography books, not a successful cryptographer per se.
He’s a self-promoter. A valuable life skill to learn at some point is how to differentiate those who are legendary due to the awesomeness of their own feats, and those who manufacture legend from mediocrity.
FWIW, I met him briefly at a developer conference in Norway a few years ago, and he actually seemed quite humble.