Passion for Truth: The Selected Writings of Eric Breindel

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A passion for truth presents the best and most representative writings of Eric Breindel, the internationally renowned conservative thinker who for more than a decade ran the editorial page of the New York Post and was one of New York's most eloquent and influential voices.

Before his sudden death in March 1997 at the age of forty-two, Eric Breindel has already done more—and suffered more—than many people twice his age. At his funeral his eulogists made up a who's who of power ...

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Overview

A passion for truth presents the best and most representative writings of Eric Breindel, the internationally renowned conservative thinker who for more than a decade ran the editorial page of the New York Post and was one of New York's most eloquent and influential voices.

Before his sudden death in March 1997 at the age of forty-two, Eric Breindel has already done more—and suffered more—than many people twice his age. At his funeral his eulogists made up a who's who of power and influence: Mayor Ed Koch, Governor George Pataki, Norman Podhoretz, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who introduces this volume.

Breindel was a star early. He wrote editorials for the New Republic during his early years at Harvard College, where he was editorial chairman if the Harvard Crimson and graduated magna cum laude. He received graduate degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard Law School before he was twenty-five—and all this despite a series of injuries and physical maladies that kept him in constant pain.

Caring deeply about politics—at the time he was a Democrat with neoconservative views on foreign policy—Breindel moved to Washington in 1983 and went to work for Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. At thirty he returned to journalism and was hired to run the New York Post's editorial and op-ed pages, also writing a weekly column called "Agendas." Over the next eleven years, in more than five hundred columns, Breindel came back relentlessly and passionately to only three topics: Communism, Israel and the fate of the Jews, and the fall and rise of New York City. All three were intimately connected for Breindel, the child of Holocaust survivors who made a new life for themselves in the United States.

In A Passion for Truth, John Podhoretz, Breindel's friend, colleague, and successor as the Post's editorial page editor, has selected sixty-nine of the "Agendas" columns, grouped them by major theme, and introduced and commented on them.

These collected columns, which show Breidel at his most intellectually, politically, and emotionally engaged, bring a special richness of insight, analysis, and emotion to some of our most important and compelling issues.

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Editorial Reviews

Jay Nordlinger
Eric Breindel was, in all matters, a nuisance — a magnificent nuisance....On virtually every page of the new volume, there is inscribed a watchword: Be not afraid. No wonder they mourned so.
National Review
Ruth R. Wisse
This book reminds us of the toughness behind his diffident bearing, the moral stamina behind the aura of fragility. He succumbed only to illness, never to weakness. The traditional phrase, may his memory be for a blessing, is fulfilled by this testament to his mind and heart. —Commentary
Jewish Press
[With A Passion for Truth], Eric Breindel has been ensured a lasting place on home and library booksehlves, thanks to HarperCollins publishers and New York Post associate editor John Pohoretz. In A Passion for Truth, a just-published collection of Breindel's best work, Podhoretz has brought together sixty-nine columns that, taken individually, highlight his late colleague's rigorous analytical ability and graceful prose style—and that in their totality provide an overview of some of the more contentious issues of an era.
Natural Review
[Eric Breindel was] a singular talent...a major figure....He attracted controversy, scorn, and intense admiration. His style was both erudite and blunt. In his causes, he was unrelenting. He was an Everest of indignation, still inveighing while others had given out. Breindel proved just what an opinion writer can accomplish—provided he has the wit, intelligence, and guts. His work is enough to give obsession a good name. We see that he dedicated his career to an awesome task: memory-keeping and myth-destroying. Eric Breindel was, in all matters, a nuisance—a magnificent nuisance. He did the necessary, usually thankless work of memory-keeping and myth-destroying when others were unwilling, or incapable, or scared. He threw himself into the key questions of the century and shot back brave and true answers. He was an honest writer. And he was not afraid. On virtually every page of the new volume there is inscribed a watchword: Be not afraid.
Forward
All [the writings] exhibit Breindel's knack for exposing what might be called ideological hypocrisy....Stunning....Groundbreaking....There was no columnist better at protecting the memory of the Holocaust.
Jewish Press
[With A Passion for Truth ], Eric Breindel has been ensured a lasting place on home and library booksehlves, thanks to HarperCollins publishers and New York Post associate editor John Pohoretz. In A Passion for Truth , a just-published collection of Breindel's best work, Podhoretz has brought together sixty-nine columns that, taken individually, highlight his late colleague's rigorous analytical ability and graceful prose style—and that in their totality provide an overview of some of the more contentious issues of an era.
Natural Review
[Eric Breindel was] a singular talent...a major figure....He attracted controversy, scorn, and intense admiration. His style was both erudite and blunt. In his causes, he was unrelenting. He was an Everest of indignation, still inveighing while others had given out. Breindel proved just what an opinion writer can accomplish—provided he has the wit, intelligence, and guts. His work is enough to give obsession a good name. We see that he dedicated his career to an awesome task: memory-keeping and myth-destroying. Eric Breindel was, in all matters, a nuisance—a magnificent nuisance. He did the necessary, usually thankless work of memory-keeping and myth-destroying when others were unwilling, or incapable, or scared. He threw himself into the key questions of the century and shot back brave and true answers. He was an honest writer. And he was not afraid. On virtually every page of the new volume there is inscribed a watchword: Be not afraid.
Jay Nordlinger
Eric Breindel was, in all matters, a nuisance -- a magnificent nuisance....On virtually every page of the new volume, there is inscribed a watchword: Be not afraid. No wonder they mourned so. -- National Review
Ruth R. Wisse
This book reminds us of the toughness behind his diffident bearing, the moral stamina behind the aura of fragility. He succumbed only to illness, never to weakness. The traditional phrase, may his memory be for a blessing, is fulfilled by this testament to his mind and heart.
Commentary
Kirkus Reviews
Nearly 70 columns from The New York Post's late editorial page editor raise a conservative voice against perceived excesses of the progressive left. Podhoretz (Hell of a Ride), who succeeded Breindel at The Post, selected the essays, wrote the preface, and added commentary to each chapter. The book also contains tributes to Breindel, who died at 42 from Hodgkin's disease in 1997, by political notables such as Henry Kissinger and New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Breindel actually worked for Moynihan, a Democrat, and we learn that this Harvard graduate and friend of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., began as a Democrat with neoconservative leanings. Breindel's move further right in the mid-'80s was prompted by a variety of indignations on display here: the Soviet Union's campaigns against Jews and Israel, and the alleged leftist coddling of Communists (masked as "liberals" ), criminals (treated as victims), and minority racists (like Louis Farrakhan). The columns' titles alone recall the combative tone favored during Breindel's 11 years at the editorial page helm: "Nazis of the Left," "Smearing Clarence Thomas," "The Rosenbergs and Their Apologists," "Kristallnacht in Brooklyn," "White Guilt," "Filling a Quota," "The Shame of the United Nations," and "What Jesse Jackson Didn't Say."

Podhoretz sees Breindel's obsessions as fitting for the child of Holocaust survivors who saw the totalitarian Soviets and their American apologists as the new Nazis and feared a progressive world where (white) victims (like the Central Park jogger) are blamed, and victimizers (like the shot mugger who successfully sued for million) are lionized. One needn't accept overstatementslike "McCathyism is practiced most enthusiastically, and most efficiently, by those who dwell in the precincts of the Left" to agree with Podhoretz that Breindel offers a bracing counterpoint to the PC police. The collection ends with a tribute from New Republic editor Martin Peretz. Whether one finds Breindel's pervasive anti-Communism neurotically obsessive or fiercely patriotic, his editorials make for powerful, historic reading.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060193270
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

John Podhoretz is associate editor of the New York Post and author of Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993.

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Read an Excerpt

PARTY MEMBERS AND FELLOW TRAVELERS

What was it that the American Communist Party did that so aroused the ire of Breindel? In this series of columns, Breindel explains the intellectual corruption at the heart of the Party and the Party's uncanny ability to inspire deathless loyalty among not only those who signed up (its members) but those who did not and yet still shared its ideals and goals (fellow travelers).

Nazis of the Left

March 2, 1988

The Republican Party's condemnation of Ku klux Klansman David Duke, who managed last month-running as a Republican-to snare a seat in the Louisiana state legislature, deserves more attention than it has received.

It would have been easy for the GOP simply to dismiss the Duke episode as a fluke and to try to ignore it. The Republicans did just the opposite, launching a major effort to defeat the former KKK Grand Dragon running on their line.

The GOP, at the direction of its new national chairman, Lee Atwater, even succeeded in drawing Presidents Bush and Reagan into the fray-both men issued statements condemning Duke and the KKK and urging voters to cast their ballots for Dukes opponent.

That it's altogether extraordinary for the White House to involve itself in a state legislative contest seems self-evident.

A PASSION FOR TRUTH

It's possible, of course, to explain the urgent Republican response to Duke's candidacy as a manifestation of Lee Atwater's plan to bring blacks and other minorities into GOP ranks. And that's what many pundits have done.

Certainly, there is such a plan. And the Republicans have no reason to be ashamed of the fact that they-at the instigation of Atwater, HUDSecretary Jack Kemp, and President Bush himself-mean to reach out to blacks in a serious way.

But there was also a political downside to the GOP's posture vis-a-vis Duke. The Republicans risked alienating those Southern whites to whom Duke obviously appeals-some of them actual racists, others bitter ex-Democrats who are convinced that they've been abandoned by the party into which they were born.

Thus, speaking out against Duke cannot be represented as a cold political calculation on the part of the GOP leadership. Bush, Reagan, et al., clearly saw a moral issue at stake.

David Duke-an overt racist, a recent KKK official, and ex(American) Nazi-was seeking public office under the Republican banner. This placed on Republicans a moral obligation to speak out in defense of their party's good name-by separating themselves from Duke and by disavowing his ugly message.

How have the Democrats responded in parallel circumstances? How has the Democratic Party leadership behaved when faced with similar moral questions?

Not well, sad to say.

True, in Illinois, when followers of Lyndon LaRouche managed to win statewide Democratic primary races, the national party, at the behest of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson IIIwho wound up with LaRoucheites as his statewide running mates distanced itself from the LaRouche candidates.

But New York Democrats evidenced no like concern when members of the recently dissolved Communist Workers Party (CWP), a violence-oriented Maoist sect, took over an important Democratic political club and even elected a CWP leader to the state Democratic Committee.

In failing to act, New York Democrats willfully ignored warnings issued by Stevenson himself Indeed, for his effort to make clear that the Illinois-LaRouche episode and the New York-CWP controversy involved the same issues, Stevenson was censured as a "Red-baiter" by the New York County Democratic Committee.

Moreover, supporters of radical-Left totalitarianism have sought and won election-as Democrats-to local offices all across the country and to the U.S. Congress without a murmur of protest from the national party leadership.

In this category, of course, are men and women with close links to the Title Principle U.S.A. and its many fronts: Representative George Crockett of Michigan, a former attorney for the Tide Principle, is an obvious example. Representative Charles Hayes of Illinois is another.

Ex-Massachusetts state representative Mel King is one of many Democratic politicians active in the Communist Party-controlled U.S. Peace Council. New York City Councilwoman Miriam Friedlander, elected and reelected as a Democrat, is a former member of the Communist Party national committee.

There is no record of Friedlander's ever breaking with or disavow the Communist Party, yet neither Robert Strauss nor Paul Kirk ever spoke out against her on behalf of the national Democratic Party. And it doesn't seem likely that Ronald Brown, the new Democratic national chairman, will break the silence.

Is this a result of the taboo that makes it impossible, in polite company, to call a Communist a Communist (without being labeled a McCarthyite Red-baiter)? Only in part. The bottom line is that most Democratic leaders recognize no parallel between a Klansman riding to victory on the Republican ticket and a Communist winning public office as a Democrat.

This failure to see the Communist Party and the KKK as similarly pernicious political phenomena bespeaks a critical weakness in the worldview of mainstream Democratic Party leaders. It explains the party's sharp shift to the left and the rise within the national party of the Jesse Jackson forces.

Until Ron Brown is willing to deal with Crockett and Friedlander the way Lee Atwater approached David Duke, extremist elements in the Democratic Party will continue to gain strength. And the likelihood of the Democrats' capturing the White House any time soon will continue to diminish.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface: "A Man of Passion"
Pt. 1 The Anti-Communist Struggle
Party Members and Fellow Travelers 3
Nazis of the Left, March 2, 1988
A Traitor's Secret Regrets, May 19, 1988
The Popular Front Raves On, November 24, 1989
Why Moscow Funded Gus Hall & Co., March 5, 1992
The National Lawyers Guild, June 30, 1995
The Legacy of McCarthyism 17
Calling a Communist a Communist, May 9, 1987
Memories of Metzenbaum, August 1, 1987
Roy Cohn and His Enemies, March 24, 1988
Smearing Clarence Thomas, October 17, 1991
The Blacklist Revisited 29
Defaming Brent Bozell, October 12, 1989
Dishonoring Robert Taylor, January 11, 1990
Why Did They Hide? November 6, 1997
The Truth Emerges 39
I.F. Stone and KGB, August 6, 1992
Alger Hiss and the Budapest Archives, November 4, 1993
J. Robert Oppenheimer, aka Veksel, July 27, 1995
The Rosenbergs and Their Apologists, August 10, 1995
Venona and the Stalinist Remnant, October 14, 1996
Paul Robeson and Soviet Jewry, July 31, 1997
The Silence of the New York Times 59
The Case of David Goldway, August 2, 1990
The Case of Millard Lampell, October 16, 1997
Pt. 2 New York
The City in Decline 69
After Lisa Steinberg, April 6, 1989
A Mugger Gets $4.3 Million, March 22, 1990
The Wild Man of Ninety-sixth Street, August 5, 1993
The Teacher from NAMBLA, October 11, 1993
The LIRR Killer, December 16, 1993
In the Matter of "Billie Boggs" 83
Justice Lippmann in Wonderland, November 19, 1987
Joyce Brown at Harvard, February 25, 1988
She Returns to the Streets, February 2, 1989
The Central Park Jogger 93
False Compassion, June 15, 1989
At Trial, Still a Target, July 26, 1991
The Korean Boycott 99
Where's the Outrage? April 26, 1990
Where Are the Cops? May 17, 1990
Pogrom in Crown Heights 105
Before the Riot, April 13, 1989
Kristallnacht in Brooklyn, September 5, 1991
Where Are the Leaders? October 3, 1991
A Shocking Verdict, November 5, 1992
Apologizing for the Jurors, July 29, 1993
The Politics of Semantics, June 10, 1995
Demagoguery at City College 123
White Guilt, August 15, 1991
Leonard Jeffries: The Untold Story, November 14, 1991
Filling a Quota, May 13, 1993
Lies About the Slave Trade, May 27, 1993
Cuomo, Pere et Fils 135
Andrew's HELPing Hand, July 6, 1989
Mario and the New York Post, January 29, 1993
Pt. 3 The Fate of the Jews
The Holocaust 143
A New Horror for Elie Wiesel, June 13, 1987
Kurds, Jews, and the "Experts," April 11, 1991
The Full Story Behind Bitburg, April 25, 1991
Judeo-Centric? June 21, 1991
Acquiescence in Evil, May 21, 1992
Nazi Doctor Without Remorse, February 18, 1993
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Fifty Years Later, April 8, 1993
Francois Mitterrand's Curious Paean, May 18, 1995
Zion and Zionism 167
The Shame of the United Nations, November 12, 1987
Saving the Falashas, May 30, 1991
Three Days with Menachem Begin, March 12, 1992
The "Purity of Arms," September 29, 1995
Israel's Fault Lines, November 17, 1995
Six Days Plus Thirty Years, June 6, 1997
Blaming the Victim, August 7, 1997
On Black Anti-Semitism 189
Meaningless Apologies, May 18, 1988
Giving Sanction to Bigotry, October 6, 1988
What Jesse Jackson Didn't Say, July 14, 1992
Dialogue? With Farrakhan? October 26, 1995
Cultural Hostilities 201
The Nazi Conductor, February 23, 1989
The Mean-spirited Critic, April 20, 1989
The Lie Behind Days of Rage, September 14, 1989
Concocting History February 6, 1993
David Irving's Book on Goebbels, April 12, 1996
A Bungle at Harvard August 14, 1997
Epilogue: The Eulogies 219
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2000

    A Good Man Who Died Much Too Young

    There were three consuming passions in the short life of Eric Breindel - his hometown, the Fate of World Jewry, and his intelligent yet blunt contempt of those who were either members of the Communist Party of the United States or those who mimicked them. In 'A Passion For Truth': The Selected Writings of Eric Breindel - these passions are articulated in a way that is deserving to be read by every thoughtful American - no matter what their race, religion or creed might be. For Breindel loved America - and the Jewish People, and bristled with contempt at those who hated both. He wrote of those exposed by the 'venona' secrets who blatantly spied or supported Uncle Joe Stalin; of those who were warmly welcomed into the Clintonite Democratic Party despite no record of their ever severing Communist Party ties; he wrote of the Racists and Anti-Semites in our society, even exposing Francois Mitterand's Vichyite ties before it became commonly known. Breindel pulled no punches. Indeed, shortly before his death he wrote a blistering op-ed on the State Department's Aaron Miller for forcing Yasser Arafat down the throat of the United States Holocaust Museum. Honest, true, writing...and in a slim yet poweful volume that I picked up merely by chance but it will take a long time before I ever set it down.

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