Irving Kristol, the "godfather" of neoconservatism and one of our most important public intellectuals, played an extraordinarily influential role in the development of American intellectual and political culture over the past half century. These essays, many hard to find and reprinted here for the first time since their initial appearance, are a penetrating survey of the intellectual development of one of the progenitors of neoconservatism.
Kristol wrote over the years on a remarkably broad range of topics--from W. H. Auden to Ronald Reagan, from the neoconservative movement's roots in the 1940s at City College to American foreign policy, from religion to capitalism. Kristol's writings provide us with a unique guide to the development of neoconservatism as one of the leading strains of thought--one of the leading "persuasions"--in recent American political and intellectual history.
This book is of interest mainly for the titular essay, which can be found online. There are a few other essays that dig, though never quite deeply enough, into neoconservatism, its genesis, and the position it occupies in modern politics. If you're interested in gaining insight into neoconservatism, I would suggest reading the aforementioned essay and skipping this volume. Too many of the other essays devolve into silly polemics and simply bad argumentation, though some of the ones comprising the first chapter, and drawn from Kristol's writing in the 40s and 50s, are also worth reading.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
An allergy to dogma, an openness to debate, a readiness to change one's mind are the hallmarks of these sparkling essays by Kristol (1920-2009), late founding father of neoconservatism. Gathered here are early pieces on literature and philosophy, valedictory memoirs, and commentaries on politics and culture, which collectively trace the author's rightward drift from Trotskyism through an increasingly conflicted liberalism to a resting place in the Republican Party. Some constants endure through this ideological journey: an abhorrence of making politics a religion; a focus on morality and character as the foundation of social policy; a perpetual unease with partisan groupings. (even in declaring himself a neo-con, he embraced "some form of national health insurance"). Kristol shines as a critic-of liberal flirtations with Stalinism, of the pieties of Great Society programs, of the excesses of student rebels-but his apologias for Reaganism (sketchy defenses of supply-side economics, a brief against making human rights a foreign policy concern) are less persuasive. Still, Kristol's vigorous prose and trenchant arguments can be read with pleasure and profit by readers of all political stripes. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.