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Neo-conservatism:
The Autobiography of an Idea

by Irving Kristol

ISBN 0028740211 / 9780028740218 / 0-02-874021-1
Publisher Free Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

This fascinating book by one of America's leading public intellectuals spans nearly half a century of writing, with essays on sex, politics, and religion. Irving Kristol has long been considered the godfather of neoconservatism, a political persuasion that breathed intellectual life into the moribund Republican Party during the 1970s and helped make Ronald Reagan's ascendancy possible. But because Kristol spent the bulk of his career in the highbrow journalistic world of essays and commentary, he never authored a full book that defines his mode of thinking or traces its development. This collection of essays is the closest thing there is, and it's a real treat: smart, often counterintuitive, and full of good writing. As Kristol notes on the opening pages, "An intellectual who didn't write struck me as only half an intellectual." And Kristol is clearly a full intellectual. Much of the writing here has appeared elsewhere--in Commentary, where Kristol served as an editor; The Wall Street Journal, where he regularly contributes to the op-ed page; and The Public Interest, which he founded and still edits. The best part of the book, however, is an original essay, "An Autobiographical Memoir." In it, Kristol sketches his intellectual growth, which began while he was a young man attending neo-Trotskyite meetings in Brooklyn (where he met his wife, the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb) and eventually took him to Washington, D.C., where today he is a fixture at right-of-center political gatherings. For readers interested in conservative politics, Neoconservatism is a keeper. --John J. Miller [via]