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The Essential Neoconservative Reader captures the drama and historical importance of neoconservatism's rise from 1965 to the present, by collecting influential essays by its most noted figures among them Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and James Q. Wilson. The word neoconservative” was first used as a term of derision for disgruntled ex-liberals of the 1960s. Perhaps because of this, there has never been a central credo or organization unifying neoconservatism as a movement. With this collection, however, neoconservatism is cast in a new light, portrayed as a comprehensive outlook on economics, politics, society, and culture linked by common principles and a distinctive vision.
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An impressive sampler of improbably influential essays that in the aggregate suggest neoconservatism is more a sensibility than a coherent political doctrine. In aid of providing an overview of an increasingly influential school of thought, editor Gerson has assembled works written by 20- odd intellectuals, including several (George Gilder, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Thomas Sowell) who might resent or reject being labeled ex-progressives, let alone neocons. Be that as it may, the anthology affords vivid perspectives on a sociopolitical movement that developed over 30 years ago in reaction to what its founding fathers and mothers deemed liberalism's naivet‚ about Communism, antipathy toward religion, hatred of market capitalism, excessive tolerance for aberrant behavior, and allied failings. Among other examples of what might be called neoconservatism's flair for mannerly invective, Gerson offers: Nathan Glazer's prescient (i.e., 1969) case against student radicalism (``The Campus Crucible''); Jeane Kirkpatrick's classic Cold War apologia (``Dictatorships and Double Standards''); Irving Kristol's exasperated meditation on the left's bent for making cultural equivalents of democracy and obscenity (``Pornography, Obscenity, and the Case for Censorship''); Sowell's devastating take on enforced equity (``Affirmative Action: A Worldwide Disaster''); Moynihan's unsettling article on social norms as a moving target (``Defining Deviancy Down''); and Charles Krauthammer's New Republic charge that, ``helpless in the face of the explosion of real criminality, for example, we satisfy our . . . needs with a crusade against date rape.'' Included as well are the provocative likes of Midge Decter, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Michael Novak, Norman Podhoretz, Aaron Wildavsky, James Q. Wilson, and others who (although disillusioned with the welfare state) are by no means antigovernment. Uncommonly sensible and civil discourses from a bridge group whose ideas are fast entering the mainstream, if not the realm of conventional wisdom. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
During the 30 years between Kennedy and Gingrich, the political world witnessed the evolution and proliferation of a new political species: the neoconservatives. Strangers to the older conservatism of patrimony and tradition, neoconservatives are (with a few exceptions) liberals who have broken ranks, turning against a liberal orthodoxy that they find increasingly deceptive. Thus, it was mostly his fellow liberals that Norman Podhoretz offended with his famous 1963 essay "My Negro Problem--and Ours." Since the 1960s, numerous writers (including Nathan Glazer, Irving Kristol, Michael Novak, Jean Kirkpatrick, Richard John Neuhaus, Patrick Moynihan, and Thomas Sowell) have joined in the neoconservative ranks, but reaction against liberalism has never been enough to weld the group into a disciplined phalanx. Hence, readers will find no party-line formulas unifying the essays in this anthology. But Gerson has done an excellent job of assembling pieces that illustrate the neoconservatives' tough-minded resistance to feel-good politics. It is a tough-mindedness that requires readers to confront modern dilemmas with a new honesty. Bryce Christensen
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Book Description Basic Books, 1997. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0201154889
Book Description Basic Books, 1997. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0201154889