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The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009
     

The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009

by Irving Kristol
 

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Irving Kristol, the "godfather" of neoconservatism and one of our most important public intellectuals, played an extraordinarily influential role in the development of American intellectual and political culture over the past half century. These essays, many hard to find and reprinted here for the first time since their initial appearance, are a penetrating survey of

Overview

Irving Kristol, the "godfather" of neoconservatism and one of our most important public intellectuals, played an extraordinarily influential role in the development of American intellectual and political culture over the past half century. These essays, many hard to find and reprinted here for the first time since their initial appearance, are a penetrating survey of the intellectual development of one of the progenitors of neoconservatism.

Kristol wrote over the years on a remarkably broad range of topics--from W. H. Auden to Ronald Reagan, from the neoconservative movement's roots in the 1940s at City College to American foreign policy, from religion to capitalism. Kristol's writings provide us with a unique guide to the development of neoconservatism as one of the leading strains of thought--one of the leading "persuasions"--in recent American political and intellectual history.

Editorial Reviews

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
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465023332
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
01/11/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
File size:
876 KB
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Irving Kristol, the founder and editor of the Public Interest, was also a regular contributor for three decades to the Wall Street Journal. He was the author of Two Cheers for Capitalism, On the Democratic Idea in America, Reflections of a Neoconservative, and Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.

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