The Norman Podhoretz Reader: A Selection of His Writings from the 1950s through the 1990s

The Norman Podhoretz Reader: A Selection of His Writings from the 1950s through the 1990s

by Thomas L. Jeffers, Norman Podhoretz
     
 

Norman Podhoretz "is a thinker and writer and polemicist, a geopolitician and student of religious ideas, an autobiographer of genius, a man who reacts sharply to the news as it pours from the press and the airwaves, who thinks deeply, angrily, and sincerely about it, and commits his thoughts into vivid and penetrative argument."

So writes the eminent British

Overview

Norman Podhoretz "is a thinker and writer and polemicist, a geopolitician and student of religious ideas, an autobiographer of genius, a man who reacts sharply to the news as it pours from the press and the airwaves, who thinks deeply, angrily, and sincerely about it, and commits his thoughts into vivid and penetrative argument."

So writes the eminent British historian Paul Johnson in his introduction to this indispensable collection of Norman Podhoretz's essays of the past fifty years. Organized by decade, these essays, fascinating in themselves, also add up to a running history of American literature and intellectual life in the second half of the twentieth century. From Vladimir Nabokov to Saul Bellow, from Ralph Ellison to Norman Mailer, from Hannah Arendt to Henry Kissinger, Podhoretz has dealt with the most important novelists and thinkers of the period. He has also turned his attention to such major European figures as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, George Orwell, and Isaiah Berlin, and his trenchant appraisals of both Americans and Europeans are as fresh and lively today as when they first appeared. Many of them have been unavailable for years, and will prove revelatory for first-time readers and longtime admirers alike.

The New York intellectuals, of whom Podhoretz is the archetype, loved to read and discuss literature, but they never stopped arguing about politics. Intertwined with the literary essays, The Norman Podhoretz Reader offers some of the best and most influential political essays written by anyone in our time. Through such classics as "My Negro Problem — and Ours," his famous reassessments in Why We Were in Vietnam, and his retrospective look at neoconservatism (of which he was one of the founding fathers), Podhoretz has led and changed opinion throughout his career.

In addition to all this, The Norman Podhoretz Reader includes self-contained excerpts from the books Making It, Breaking Ranks, and Ex-Friends that demonstrate why Johnson calls Podhoretz "an auto- biographer of genius." Taken together, these readings provide a rich sample of the work of one of America's great contemporary men of letters — an extraordinary writer who is equally comfortable discussing the Marquis de Sade and the Middle East, American foreign policy and theological disputes, and who brings the same vigor, intelligence, and literary grace to this amazingly broad range of subjects and issues.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Norman Podhoretz used to say, "One of the longest journeys in the world is the journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan." Podhoretz's journey to become one of America's most prominent intellectuals is remarkable: from Brownsville, Brooklyn, where he was the son of immigrant Jews, to Columbia University, Cambridge and finally, the editorship of the important intellectual journal Commentary. During the past five decades, Podhoretz has produced notable books and essays on a variety of topics including literature, politics, Jewish thought and culture. This reader brings together a collection of these essays and book excerpts, tracking Podhoretz's journey from young literary critic in the '50s ("The Adventures of Saul Bellow") to leading provocative thinker in the '60s ("My Negro Problem and Ours") to prominent and influential neoconservative in later decades ("From Breaking Ranks: Prologue: A Letter to My Son"). Whether he writes about Saul Bellow, Vietnam or Larry Flynt, Podhoretz produces essays that share a common strand: in addition to their general perspicacity and good writing, they are highly personal. Not only do these essays reflect the ideas of the time in which they were written but they also illustrate how those ideas have affected Podhoretz as a thinking person and as a human being. To confine Podhoretz, as many do, to a political camp is to misunderstand the man and his intellectual journey. While faithful conservatives will certainly appreciate this collection, anyone who is interested in reading or writing about ideas in a way that is meaningful should consider reading at least a sampling of Podhoretz's work. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416568308
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
06/27/2007
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Beginning with Modern Times (1985), Paul Johnson's books are acknowledged masterpieces of historical analysis. He is a regular columnist for Forbes and The Spectator, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

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