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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 con 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.


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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 con 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian Collins

    Hart provides an interesting view of post-WWII conservatism in the United States. Perhaps most interesting are his discussions of the various strands of conservatism and their varying visions of life. Hart himself opposes all forms of utopianism. He believes that the nation-state, though imperfect, is a necessary good. Along with this he believes that national defense is also necessary; it is utopian to think otherwise. But he also thinks it is utopian to think the United States can use its mili Hart provides an interesting view of post-WWII conservatism in the United States. Perhaps most interesting are his discussions of the various strands of conservatism and their varying visions of life. Hart himself opposes all forms of utopianism. He believes that the nation-state, though imperfect, is a necessary good. Along with this he believes that national defense is also necessary; it is utopian to think otherwise. But he also thinks it is utopian to think the United States can use its military power to bring democracy to the world. He prefers constitutional government to majority rule; Hart is not overly sympathetic to populism. He favors free-market economies—but not when they become a utopian ideal that overrules all other values. Hart believes that the conservative should value beauty and should seek to conserve good literature, art, architecture, and nature. Hart favors traditional religion (he is himself a Catholic, but not one who accepts the infallibility of the magisterium); he denies that evangelical religion is conservative, and he prefers a libertarian stance on moral issues. Thus while he grants that Roe v. Wade "was certainly an example of judicial overreach," he also avers that "simply to pull an abstract 'right to life' out of the Declaration of Independence, as some conservatives do, is not conservative but Jacobinical." He sees little value in seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. The value in Hart's book is the unfolding that twentieth century (and now twenty-first century) conservatism is not a single thing. There are a diversity of conservative views (all with points of contact and commonalities that allow them to be grouped as conservative), but with profound differences as well. This means the Christian cannot simply identify himself as a conservative but must specify what kind and in what ways the Christian worldview aligns (or does not align) with a conservative worldview.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Hickerson

    Hart, a National Review editor and contributor, chronicles 50 years of the notable conservative magazine, profiling editors and major writers and recounting the NR's opinion of 10 Presidents, from Eisenhower to George W. Bush. He reminds us of a time we have forgotten, if we ever knew it, when liberal thought dominated both Republican and Democrat parties, global communism was active in the United States, and the idea of conservatives having an influence on public policy was something that found Hart, a National Review editor and contributor, chronicles 50 years of the notable conservative magazine, profiling editors and major writers and recounting the NR's opinion of 10 Presidents, from Eisenhower to George W. Bush. He reminds us of a time we have forgotten, if we ever knew it, when liberal thought dominated both Republican and Democrat parties, global communism was active in the United States, and the idea of conservatives having an influence on public policy was something that founder William F. Buckley and his team didn't expect to see in their lifetimes. The goal was realized in the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Hart gives him 49 of the book's 368 pages and considers him one of the great Presidents of the 20th century, naming FDR and Eisenhower as the other two. The National Review found great fault with Eisenhower, but Hart shows him to be cunning and effective behind the mask of the amiable homespun rube, pointing out that what he didn't do (intervene in Hungary and Suez) was as important as what he did. The profiles of some of the NR's personalities can be fascinating, consider that of Russell Kirk which especially appealed to me: quoting Kirk,"So far as I know I am the only American who holds the St. Andrews doctor of letters and I am quite sure that I am the only person who has been capped with the cap of John Knox (literally) and hooded with the hood of St. Ignatius of Loyola". Kirk was something of an anachronist, wore a cape and refused to use some technology, and philosophically had sympathy for the Southern Agrarians. Hart is a conservative and criticizes the Supreme Court moving into areas that should be left to the legislature. He also sees the need for two strong political parties and was glad to see the Democrats recover from their lunge away from the mainstream with George McGovern in 1972. He is bordering on critical of the National Review in recent times, pointing out that they weren't being intellectually honest when criticizing Clinton's tax increase and then arguing that the good economy under Clinton was due to George Bush Sr., whose tax increase they opposed as bad for the economy. "The magazine appeared to be dogmatically against raising taxes whatever the circumstances and whatever the deficit. That is, National Review, on the grounds that lower taxes meant less government, always supported tax cuts. But in the real world, Americans wanted such programs as Medicare and Social Security, and these had to be paid for...was NR losing its independent critical edge?" His analysis, via Norman Podhoretz, of Clinton's success is hilarious: "If he had not been so great a liar, he would not have been able to get away not only with his own private sins but with the political insults he was administering to some of his core constituencies...And so, through a kind of political and psychological jujitsu, it came to pass that Clinton's worst qualities were what enabled him to accomplish something good." I highly recommend "The Making of the American Conservative Mind". It has helped me understand the different philosophical groups that make up the Republican Party. It is no betrayal of principal for a faction within the party to attack President Obama as a liberal for following the policies of Dwight Eisenhower; this group saw Eisenhower as a liberal, and he governed as one at a time when the Republican party was controlled by East Coast liberal elites. Buckley didn't vote in the 1956 election because he could not support Eisenhower. But the National Review and Buckley prized intellectualism, clear thinking, and reliance on facts rather than ideology. They also came to see the limits of their conservatism with a society that functions by consensus. Reagan was about as far as it went. And this was not the Reagan who lost the 1976 New Hampshire primary to Ford because he promised to trim 90 billion 1976 dollars (!) from the federal budget and planned to pay for it by cutting off the federal subsidy, allowing states to pay for whatever programs they wanted with their own revenue (meaning New Hampshire would have had an income tax or no schools). This was the Reagan who had learned from that experience that while Americans like the idea of self reliance, they also expect certain things in the social environment that only government provides.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    This is a history of The National Review from its founding by William F. Buckley to the present. It is also much more than that because the NR chronicled the rebirth and rise of the modern Conservative movement in America. During part of this time Jeffrey Hart was a writer and editor at the NR and his history has insights into the politics of an era and the individuals who shaped and defined it. Today, there is a lot of confusion over what a Conservative is, but in Hart's excellent narrative you This is a history of The National Review from its founding by William F. Buckley to the present. It is also much more than that because the NR chronicled the rebirth and rise of the modern Conservative movement in America. During part of this time Jeffrey Hart was a writer and editor at the NR and his history has insights into the politics of an era and the individuals who shaped and defined it. Today, there is a lot of confusion over what a Conservative is, but in Hart's excellent narrative you can see it and appreciate it for its intellectual rigor and the basic political heritage that underlies conservatism. There is much to appreciate and learn, and a wealth of detail that is not found in the "talking heads" of the present. These were men of principle and vision. The paperback is revised and updated to include Hart's appraisal of the end of the clinton era and the Bush Administration. This is frank and unflattering, but it rounds out the "Making of the American Conservative Mind" in an exceptional way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    this book explains all the politics of the conservatives, and the role of Bill Buckly's National Review. Some of it is astounding. i never new how radical they were. anti- civil rights for one. this book explains all the politics of the conservatives, and the role of Bill Buckly's National Review. Some of it is astounding. i never new how radical they were. anti- civil rights for one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    I.P.B. Dogood

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

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    Hannah

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    Michael

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    Jean

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill Reilly

  11. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Kabaservice

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christian Shute

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    Seth

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam

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    Andrew

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    Tom Stamper

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    Mike

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    Peter

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shwavid

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    Charles

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    Glenn Landstrom

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    Michael

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    B.I. Topaz

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    John

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bjc624

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott

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    Tom

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    Ryan Rusak

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

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    John Jay

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    Stephen Gosling

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    Chris Reynolds

  34. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

  35. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

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    Ron

  37. 5 out of 5

    John Hartman

  38. 4 out of 5

    Walter Moss

  39. 5 out of 5

    Spectraz

  40. 4 out of 5

    Donald Forster

  41. 4 out of 5

    Veekas Ashoka

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