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Norman Podhoretz: A Biography
     

Norman Podhoretz: A Biography

by Thomas L. Jeffers
 

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This is the first biography of the Jewish-American intellectual Norman Podhoretz, longtime editor of the influential magazine Commentary. As both an editor and a writer, he spearheaded the countercultural revolution of the 1960s and - after he "broke ranks" - the neoconservative response. For years he defined what was at stake in the struggle against communism;

Overview

This is the first biography of the Jewish-American intellectual Norman Podhoretz, longtime editor of the influential magazine Commentary. As both an editor and a writer, he spearheaded the countercultural revolution of the 1960s and - after he "broke ranks" - the neoconservative response. For years he defined what was at stake in the struggle against communism; recently he has nerved America for a new struggle against jihadist Islam; always he has given substance to debates over the function of religion, ethics, and the arts in our society. The turning point of his life occurred, at the age of forty near a farmhouse in upstate New York, in a mystic clarification. It compelled him to "unlearn" much that he had earlier been taught to value, and it also made him enemies. Revealing the private as well as the public man, Thomas L. Jeffers chronicles a heroically coherent life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jeffers...skillfully weaves together these and other stories of Podhoretz's dramatic ascent to the peak of influence within the liberal intellectual world." -David Linker, New York Times

"In his insightful biography of Norman Podhoretz, Jeffers has captured the substance and conscience of a man difficult to categorize, who has been a figure of consequence in the political and cultural controversies of our time." -Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

"Very few journalists have led lives consequential enough to merit a full-scale biography. Norman Podhoretz is one of the few, and this book—intelligent, thorough, admirably fair-minded—does full justice to the story of his complex and controversial life." -Terry Teachout, drama critic, The Wall Street Journal

"A literate, insightful and well-wrought portrait of one of the most important public intellectuals of the last half century. Thomas Jeffers has served both his audience and his subject well, and in doing so has made an important contribution to the history of our times." -David Horowitz, author of Radical Son and A Cracking of the Heart

"This is a first-class account of one of the most interesting and significant men in America. Norman Podhoretz is a leading intellectual whose contribution to public debate, over many decades, has been unrivalled for incisiveness and force. This biography will delight those already familiar with his work, and serve to introduce him clearly to newcomers." -Paul Johnson, historian and author of Modern Times and A History of the American People

"Jeffers serves up a rich intellectual history of postwar America." -National Review

"...lively new biography of Podhoretz by Thomas Jeffers..." -New Criterion

"A sympathetic life of a neo-conservative icon, this book will be welcomed most by those who share Podhoretz's views." -Library Journal

"Norman Podhoretz: A Biography, a new book on the editor of Commentary from 1960 to 1995, by an extremely admiring author, Marquette University professor of English Thomas Jeffers, depicts him as both prophet and martyr." -Alternet, Norman Birnbaum

"A sympathetic life of a neo-conservative icon, this book will be welcomed most by those who share Podhoretz's views." -Library Journal

"When reading this remarkable literary intellectual biography, the reader will get a good sense of just how correct Jeff ers is about Podhoretz and his intellectual career." -Gregory L. Schneider, The Journal of American History

"...a fascinating story, and Jeffers tells it ably if not brilliantly, providing the narrative tale if not always the most probing analysis of who Podhoretz is as a thinker, a political force, and a Jew." -Eric Cohen, Jewish Review of Books

"Norman Podhoretz's long, complex intellectual and personal odyssey has been thoroughly documented, richly annotated and sympathetically captured in Marquette University professor of literature Thomas L. Jeffers's Norman Podhoretz: A Biography." -Barbara Kay, The Dorchester Review

Library Journal
Jeffers (literature, Marquette Univ.) enjoyed the cooperation of Podhoretz and his circle, gaining interviews as well as access to his subject's personal correspondence and the archives at Commentary magazine. He paints a detailed portrait of Podhoretz from his early days in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY, through his studies at Columbia University and Cambridge, to his able editorship of Commentary, one of the most politically and intellectually influential journals of its day. Jeffers discusses Podhoretz's central role in America's culture wars in the last half of the 20th century, analyzing this liberal New York Jewish intellectual's shift to neo-conservatism and the shift's effects on friends and enemies alike, including Lionell Trilling, Lillian Hellman, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The book recounts the literary and political battles, which took place in the pages of magazines, in publishers' offices, and—at least until Podhoretz stopped drinking—at an endless round of dinner parties fueled by alcohol and ambition. VERDICT A sympathetic life of a neo-conservative icon, this book will be welcomed most by those who share Podhoretz's views.—William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781107617872
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
01/02/2014
Pages:
408
Sales rank:
694,226
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.91(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas L. Jeffers, a Yale PhD and a Professor of Literature at Marquette University, earlier taught at Cornell and Harvard, where he was a Mellon Fellow. Author of Samuel Butler Revalued (1981) and Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana (2005), he has also published pieces in numerous journals, including the Yale Review, the Hudson Review, Raritan, and Commentary. In 2004 he edited The Norman Podhoretz Reader, which provided the inspiration for this book.

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