Finally a ‘conservative’ book I will probably read:
It has red states and blond pundits; home schoolers and The Human Life Review; originalists, monetarists, federalists and evangelists; and no shortage of people named Kristol.
It is a big deal, in terms literal — 997 pages — and metaphorical. Few insults have stung the movement’s thinkers as much as the barb from Lionel Trilling, the literary critic, who said conservatives had no ideas, “just irritable mental gestures.”
A half-century later, 251 contributors have weighed in, not so irritably, with a four-pound response.***
Those people toiling in the capital trenches may not recognize the conservatism represented here. The book omits familiar names like Ann Coulter, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove.
It includes the journals University Bookman, circulation 2,600, and First Things. It gives Willmoore Kendall, a political scientist who died in 1967, three times as much ink as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Those proportions are appropriate, said a former student of Mr. Kendall, William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of National Review, who called the reference book “terrific.”
“Newt came and went rather fast but didn’t leave hard fingerprints,” Mr. Buckley said. “The quote, unquote conservative politicians have a pretty short lifetime in encyclopedia usage.
And here’s to a shorter political lifetime for the current crop in charge. Although I will definitely buythis book, I am a little afraid to read it. It might make me weep with nostalgia and weary from the blown opportunities of the past ten years.
And not mentioning Coulter is a plus.