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Conservatism Revisited: The Revolt Against Ideology Paperback – January 13, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


“This work is an excellent contribution to the study of post-WWII conservatism… Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and upper-division undergraduates and above.” 

—M. Coulter, Choice

"A brilliant essay in historical paradox. Mr. Viereck's witty vindication of the responsible conservatism of the past opens up new sources of moral strength for the perilous present."

– Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.  

Conservatism Revisited is a fine demonstration of historical interpretation.”

—James Killian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Brief, meaty and brilliant . . . It is a thoroughly helpful and constructive book.”

—Hans Kohn, historian and author of Force or Reason

About the Author

Peter Viereck (1916-2006) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, critic, and historian. He held the Kenan Chair in History at Mount Holyoke College and was known as one of America’s early leaders of conservatism. He was the recipient of Guggenheim fellowships both in history and poetry. In addition to his contributions to Poetry Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly, his many books include Inner Liberty: The Stubborn Grit in the Machine; Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler;and Conservative Thinkers: From John Adams to Winston Churchill.

Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America where he was chairman of his department. He has taught also at the University of Virginia and Georgetown University. He is chairman of the National Humanities Institute and editor of the journal Humanitas. In 2000 he gave the Distinguished Foreign Scholar Lectures at Beijing University His many books include A Common Human Ground, Will, Imagination, and Reason (2nd., exp. ed. published by Transaction), and Democracy and the Ethical Life.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (January 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765805766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765805768
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not a conservative. I believe society functions best when, as Herbert Croly put it in his great THE PROMISE OF AMERICAN LIFE, government pursues Hamiltonian methods (i.e., a strong federal government) to achieve Jeffersonian goals (the traditional liberal values in American life). I believe that Karl Marx's analysis of the weaknesses and dangers of capitalism (a word that Marx and not Adam Smith coined) is still far more valid and accurate than its fans trumpeting of its virtues, though I think his view of history was pure utopianism. I believe in a mixed economy. Nonetheless, I have read and enjoyed and profited from many traditional conservative writers. John Adams is one of my favorite political writers. I have profited from the works of Michael Oakshott. I like many things in the life and writings of Winston Churchill (who was also the primary force in prison reform in Britain and establishing the British health care system, and the father of the idea of the European Union, which shows that you can be a conservative and still believe that government can play a major role in affecting social life). I enjoy the work of people like Daniel Boorstin, Paul Johnson, and Roger Scruton. And I really, really like Peter Viereck.

I may disagree with these people, but they had serious ideas, cared deeply about the political order, and had the generosity of mind to acknowledge that their opponents, whether liberal or socialist, wanted much the same thing. I think John Adams would recoil in horror at the current Republican party. Viereck, along with conservative icon Russell Kirk, strongly disliked the rise of the Goldwater brand of politics in the sixties and even more strongly detested the influence of the Neocons.
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Format: Paperback
The first part of Viereck's book, which was published in 1949, I believe that I can recommend to anyone interested in Burkean conservatism. The second part ("The New Conservatism - What Went Wrong?"), from 1962, is more polemical, more concerned with the politics of the day and in my opinion less interesting today than the first book.

Sadly, this is a substandard edition. The proof-reading errors (e.g., "slays" instead of "slavs") are so numerous that I suspect that they may even have corrupted the original text to some little extent.
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Format: Paperback
When Peter Viereck wrote Conservatism Revisited in 1949 the noun and adjective “conservative” had become so unpopular that Republican Sen. Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and F.A. Hayek - who wrote The Road to Serfdom
- called themselves “liberals,” although they defined the term differently than it was conventionally defined at the time. Each of these opposed the reforms of the New Deal.

Peter Viereck proudly called himself a “Burkean conservative,” although he used the philosophy of Edmund Burke to defend the New Deal. Viereck liked the collectivism of the New Deal, especially the labor movement, and saw the individualism of the Republican Party as inimical to the spirit of Edmund Burke, whose Reflections on the Revolution in France was a critique of the French Revolution.

Conservatism Revisited was largely a revisionist history of Prince Klemens von Metternich, who was the Foreign Minister of the Austrian empire from 1809, and the Chancellor until the rebellions of 1848.

In his note to the new edition of Conservatism Revisited, Viereck said, and I agree, that in the original edition of his book he erred by emphasizing Metternich. Metternich was not quite as autocratic as his contemporary reputation. He accepted some reforms in a democratic and egalitarian direction, and wrote, “Stability is not immobility.”

Nevertheless, the history of Metternich is of limited relevance to American politics.
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