The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009

Overview

The cultural influence of Irving Kristol is as undeniable as it is unavoidable. As one of the leading minds in the development of neoconservatism, Kristol’s ideas resonate to this very day. The Neoconservative Persuasion is a series of captivating essays that present a comprehensive history of the evolution of neoconservative thought. Its topics include the political but also stretch ...

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The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009

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Overview

The cultural influence of Irving Kristol is as undeniable as it is unavoidable. As one of the leading minds in the development of neoconservatism, Kristol’s ideas resonate to this very day. The Neoconservative Persuasion is a series of captivating essays that present a comprehensive history of the evolution of neoconservative thought. Its topics include the political but also stretch to encompass the arts.

With a foreword by son Bill Kristol.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher

“A remarkable introduction to one of the few people who actually liked being called a neoconservative…. The Neoconservative Persuasion merits celebration…. [A] wonderful book.” —James Q. Wilson, Wall Street Journal
 
“Kristol’s vigorous prose and trenchant arguments can be read with pleasure and profit by readers of all political stripes.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Readers new to Kristol will find this an excellent introduction to a forceful, provocative, and witty writer.  Even if they seldom agree with what they read, they’ll likely enjoy him more than they may admit.” —Library Journal
 
“A sparkling collection of [Kristol’s] essays.  In a climate of cultural conformism…this Jewish intellectual, as independent-minded as they come, gave American Jews the best guidelines for becoming at once fully mature citizens of their country and fully mature representatives of their people.” —Jewish Ideas Daily

Library Journal
Kristol (1920–2009), referred to as the father of neoconservatism, was associated with, among other outlets, Commentary and the publishing house Basic Books. He became one of the most influential postwar public intellectuals. This collection of 48 of his essays on history, religion, economics, politics, and other topics is something of a family tribute, edited by his widow, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, and with a foreword by his son William Kristol (Weekly Standard). Kristol took on the Right early in his career, but it was usually the Left he had in his sights, even aiming at the American Library Association in 1995: "Today if a school board decides that certain books are inappropriate…the librarian cries 'censorship.' The American Library Association has convinced itself that only the school librarian has the constitutional right of book selection." If these words make Kristol seem like the worst of reactionaries, he was not. VERDICT Readers new to Kristol will find this an excellent introduction to a forceful, provocative, and witty writer. Even if they seldom agree with what they read, they'll likely enjoy him more than they may admit. The selections here barely overlap with Kristol's own earlier collection, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. With a thorough bibliography.—Bob Nardini, Nashville
Paul Berman
Himmelfarb has thoughtfully filled The Neoconservative Persuasion with pieces that, with one exception, have not appeared in previous collections. The subtitle, "Selected Essays," might lead readers to suppose that here must surely be Kristol's Greatest Hits—the best and most popular of his essays. But Kristol himself gathered together his Greatest Hits in an anthology in 1995 called Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea. The new book ought to be regarded, instead, as a Volume 2. It is faithful to his ideas and their evolution. And it offers an opportunity to evaluate his abilities as an essayist—his achievements as a thinker and writer within the little world known as the "New York intellectuals."
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465022236
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/11/2011
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving Kristol, a father of neoconservatism, was an editor and then the managing editor of Commentary magazine as well as the founder and publisher of The National Interest. Kristol was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute. In July 2002, President George W. Bush bestowed upon him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

 

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    One Of The Best....Makes You Think

    Just received this book in its reality rather than on my Nook because I suspected that it would be a book that I would have to slowly read and re-read to understand. Certainly that turned out to be the case. I feel that I should go back to some graduate school in order to understand and appreciate the book in its entirety. Needs to be read slowly and with thought to be appreciated and understood. Definitely not an easy read.
    Jim Heiser, Naples, Fl.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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