The Making of the American Conservative Mind: National Review and Its Times by Jeffrey Hart

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The Making of the American Conservative Mind: National Review and Its Times

National Review has been the leading conservative national magazine since it was founded in 1955, and in that capacity it has played a decisive role in shaping the conservative movement in the United States. In The Making of the American Conservative Mind, Jeffrey Hart provides an authoritative and high-spirited history of how the magazine has come to define and defend conservatism for the past fifty years. He also gives a firsthand account of the thought and sometimes colorful personalities—including James Burnham, Willmoore Kendall, Russell Kirk, Frank Meyer, William Rusher, Priscilla Buckley, Gerhart Niemeyer, and, of course, the magazine’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr.—who contributed to National Review’s life and wide influence.

As Hart sees it, National Review has regularly veered toward ideology, but it has also regularly corrected its course toward, in Buckley’s phrase, a “politics of reality.” Its catholicity and originality—attributable to Buckley’s magnanimity and sense of showmanship—has made the magazine the most interesting of its kind in the nation, concludes Hart. His highly readable and occasionally contrarian history, the first history of National Review yet published, marks another milestone in our understanding of how the conservatism now so influential in American political life draws from, and in some ways repudiates, the intellectual project that National Review helped launch a half century ago.

'“Jeffrey Hart has written a lively and perceptive study of a journal on the cutting edge of the story of our times. Part chronicle, part memoir, his book deftly illuminates the interplay of ideas and personalities that have made National Review a magazine of enduring consequence.” —George H. Nash“Jeffrey Hart’s biography of National Review is a welcome reminder of the role of subtle political intelligence in America’s victory in the Cold War. Indeed, The Making of the American Conservative Mind provides a vivid and illuminating perspective on American politics from the 1950s onward. This is a very important book.” —Roger Masters, Dartmouth College“The Making of the American Conservative Mind is a brilliant memoir of one of the editors of National Review, showing clearly the role that he and many of his colleagues played in shaping the conservative movement in the United States since 1955.” —Martin Anderson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University“Hart is able to give more than just a factual account. . . . He offers a closer glimpse of the behind the scenes discussions, debates, and disagreements over content that have shaped National Review over the years.” —Salem Press“Jeffery Hart’s Making of the American Conservative Mind is a relaxed amble along conservatism’s path to the present. For more than three decades, Hart, an emeritus professor of English at Dartmouth, has been a senior editor of National Review. There he has seen, and helped to referee, conservatism’s struggles of self-definition. His book is a gossipy memoir leavened by a quick skimming of 50 years of political history. ‘I confess,’ he says, ‘to a fondness for gossip, which, indeed, is a conservative genre. Gossips do not want to change the world; they want to enjoy it.’ . . . His analysis is sprightly and stimulating.” —George F. Will, The New York Times“In The Making of the American Conservative Mind, Hart chronicles the emergence of the right and National Review’s role in shaping it. His story begins in the 1950s and ends with the current Bush administration. By turns dyspeptic, melancholy, and ruminative, Hart casts a surprisingly detached eye on his subject. This is a book about a path not taken. It is also one of the most important and idiosyncratic meditations in recent memory about the conservative movement.” —Jacob Heilbrunn, Washington Monthly“On conservative grounds, Hart faults Bush for his positions on Iraq, Social Security, stem-cell research and tax policy. Their failure, Hart argues, lies in Bush’s view of such issues in abstract terms that are not anchored in the traditional conservative concern for prudence, informed by the study of history and human nature. Hart concludes that Bush ‘doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body.’ ” —Bruce Bartlett, Human Events Online“I can eagerly recommend it to everyone, but I wonder if anyone can enjoy it as much as I do. It brings back so many dear memories I can hardly read it without weeping. For me Jeff’s portrait of old James Burnham, our gentle wizard, is by itself well worth the price of the book. No novelist could have brought Jim so vividly back to life.” —Joe Sobran, syndicated column, December 18, 2006'
National Review has been the leading conservative national magazine since it was founded in 1955, and in that capacity it has played a decisive role in shaping the conservative movement in the United States. In The Making of the American Conservative Mind, Jeffrey Hart provides an authoritative and high-spirited history of how the magazine has come to define and defend conservatism for the past fifty years. He also gives a firsthand account of the thought and sometimes colorful personalities—including James Burnham, Willmoore Kendall, Russell Kirk, Frank Meyer, William Rusher, Priscilla Buckley, Gerhart Niemeyer, and, of course, the magazine’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr.—who contributed to National Review’s life and wide influence.

As Hart sees it, National Review has regularly veered toward ideology, but it has also regularly corrected its course toward, in Buckley’s phrase, a “politics of reality.” Its catholicity and originality—attributable to Buckley’s magnanimity and sense of showmanship—has made the magazine the most interesting of its kind in the nation, concludes Hart. His highly readable and occasionally contrarian history, the first history of National Review yet published, marks another milestone in our understanding of how the conservatism now so influential in American political life draws from, and in some ways repudiates, the intellectual project that National Review helped launch a half century ago.

'“Jeffrey Hart has written a lively and perceptive study of a journal on the cutting edge of the story of our times. Part chronicle, part memoir, his book deftly illuminates the interplay of ideas and personalities that have made National Review a magazine of enduring consequence.” —George H. Nash“Jeffrey Hart’s biography of National Review is a welcome reminder of the role of subtle political intelligence in America’s victory in the Cold War. Indeed, The Making of the American Conservative Mind provides a vivid and illuminating perspective on American politics from the 1950s onward. This is a very important book.” —Roger Masters, Dartmouth College“The Making of the American Conservative Mind is a brilliant memoir of one of the editors of National Review, showing clearly the role that he and many of his colleagues played in shaping the conservative movement in the United States since 1955.” —Martin Anderson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University“Hart is able to give more than just a factual account. . . . He offers a closer glimpse of the behind the scenes discussions, debates, and disagreements over content that have shaped National Review over the years.” —Salem Press“Jeffery Hart’s Making of the American Conservative Mind is a relaxed amble along conservatism’s path to the present. For more than three decades, Hart, an emeritus professor of English at Dartmouth, has been a senior editor of National Review. There he has seen, and helped to referee, conservatism’s struggles of self-definition. His book is a gossipy memoir leavened by a quick skimming of 50 years of political history. ‘I confess,’ he says, ‘to a fondness for gossip, which, indeed, is a conservative genre. Gossips do not want to change the world; they want to enjoy it.’ . . . His analysis is sprightly and stimulating.” —George F. Will, The New York Times“In The Making of the American Conservative Mind, Hart chronicles the emergence of the right and National Review’s role in shaping it. His story begins in the 1950s and ends with the current Bush administration. By turns dyspeptic, melancholy, and ruminative, Hart casts a surprisingly detached eye on his subject. This is a book about a path not taken. It is also one of the most important and idiosyncratic meditations in recent memory about the conservative movement.” —Jacob Heilbrunn, Washington Monthly“On conservative grounds, Hart faults Bush for his positions on Iraq, Social Security, stem-cell research and tax policy. Their failure, Hart argues, lies in Bush’s view of such issues in abstract terms that are not anchored in the traditional conservative concern for prudence, informed by the study of history and human nature. Hart concludes that Bush ‘doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body.’ ” —Bruce Bartlett, Human Events Online“I can eagerly recommend it to everyone, but I wonder if anyone can enjoy it as much as I do. It brings back so many dear memories I can hardly read it without weeping. For me Jeff’s portrait of old James Burnham, our gentle wizard, is by itself well worth the price of the book. No novelist could have brought Jim so vividly back to life.” —Joe Sobran, syndicated column, December 18, 2006'
Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute ISBN: 9781497646780 Pages: 425