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

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 ...

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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.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416568308
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 6/27/2007
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Podhoretz, the author of nine books on subjects ranging from contemporary literature to foreign policy, was editor-in-chief of Commentary for thirty-five years and is now the magazine's editor-at-large and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. A graduate of Columbia and Cambridge universities, he has been awarded a Pulitzer Scholarship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and five honorary doctorates. He lives in New York City with his wife, the writer Midge Decter.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction by Paul Johnson

A Bibliographical Note by Thomas L. Jeffers

The 1950s

Editor's Note

The Adventures of Saul Bellow

Simone de Beauvoir as Novelist

The Know-Nothing Bohemians

Huck Finn's Literary Journey

The 1960s

Editor's Note

My Negro Problem — and Ours

Hannah Arendt on Eichmann

In Defense of Editing

From Making It: The Brutal Bargain

The 1970s

Editor's Note

After Modernism, What?

From Breaking Ranks: Prologue: A Letter to My Son

From Breaking Ranks: Postscript

The 1980s

Editor's Note

J'Accuse

From Why We Were in Vietnam: Whose Immorality?

Kissinger Reconsidered

If Orwell Were Alive Today

An Open Letter to Milan Kundera

The Terrible Question of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The 1990s

Editor's Note

Neoconservatism: A Eulogy

Israel — with Grandchildren

Lolita, My Mother-in-Law, the Marquis de Sade, and Larry Flynt

Philip Roth, Then and Now

What Happened to Ralph Ellison

From Ex-Friends: A Foul-Weather Friend to Norman Mailer

A Dissent on Isaiah Berlin

My New York

Was Bach Jewish?

God and the Scientists

Index

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