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Kirkus ReviewsExcellent tonic for those fans of the popular pundit (The Levelling Wind, 1994, etc.) who prefer to ingest his brand of conservatism in large doses.
Large, in this case, means 150 essays unlinked by organizing themes or extended analyses. Regardless, in the Newsweek and Washington Post political columnist's latest musings about recent events, books, and people, he consistently delivers what his readers have come to expect: a principled partisanship leavened by wit, informed by a knowledge of history and philosophy, and strengthened by his choice to favor argument over rant. Nevertheless, finding novel opportunities to cast aspersions on liberals is a primary purpose (and an abiding amusement) for Will. Who else would extend an opinion that "liberalism, as is well-known, is not fond of fun" into an essay/obituary for the father of the Corvette? And yet Will resists the recently popular pabulum decreeing that liberals are always wrong (and probably evil), while conservatives are the miraculous gift of a blessed creator. By recognizing the tensions between capitalism and claims of individual rights on the one hand, and the pull of tradition, social order, and community on the other, the author confronts American conservatism with an honest and circumspect assessment of its flaws, as well as its advantages. In the longest and weightiest contribution to the volume, Will struggles with a "cultural contradiction" facing contemporary conservatives: It is not reasonable to resolutely oppose government when true conservatism stands for an order in which government is required. Moreover, simply to promote an alternative policy agenda would distinguish conservatives from liberals only by the particular interests they happened to serve. For Will, conservatism must rise above the commonplaces of the current Conservative Revolution.
Vintage Will. One can only hope his work will inspire serious thought—and not just squeals of pleasure—from his like- minded colleagues.