The Power of Ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 Years

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9780915463770: The Power of Ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 Years
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Book by Lee Edwards

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The Heritage Foundation was created to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." Though the popularity of political conservatism has ebbed and flowed over the past 25 years, the influence of Heritage has remained constant since its inception in 1973. Their most notable and far-reaching achievement thus far is the "Mandate for Leadership" that was embraced by the Reagan administration as a legislative guideline; a document in which, as William E. Simon proudly states in the book's foreword, "some 60 percent of its recommendations were eventually adopted or implemented..." Evidence of their more recent influence was revealed in the Heritage-sponsored training session that was attended by most incoming Republican freshman following the 1994 congressional elections.

The policy recommendations supplied by Heritage's analysts are primarily aimed at Republican members of Congress, making the foundation as much a lobbying group as a think tank. Much of their role (as with many think tanks) is to summarize vast amounts of research and the finer points of pending legislation into manageable portions that can be of use to both politicians and like-minded pundits. On this front, the foundation has been prolific, boasting a list of contributing writers and lecturers that reads like a who's who list of conservative politicians and intellectuals from around the world. An authorized history, The Power of Ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 Years is a celebratory scrapbook of former presidents, building locations, contributors (of both ideas and money), and staff members past and present. Edwards, a historian and author of the Barry Goldwater biography, Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution, borders on hagiography in his treatment of prominent Heritage members, but his inside access and keen eye make his book the definitive guide to this conservative bulwark.

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...shot through with shameless boosterism ... Still, Edwards ... does a thorough and workmanlike job of chronicling a body that has guided Republican thinking from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich. --The New York Times Book Review, David Greenberg

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