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Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion Hardcover – September 25, 2012


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Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion + The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz + The Black Book of the American Left Volume 2: Progressives
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; First Edition edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596988126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596988125
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

It is an irony of our human condition, writes David Horowitz, that the efforts by progressive radicals to make the world “a better place” have also been the chief source of human suffering from the beginning of time. Bestselling author David Horowitz, once a radical himself, has now written Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion—his ultimate reflection on radicalism and its inevitably tragic consequences, focusing his analysis not on abstract ideology but on the people who have embraced it.

Among those profiled in Radicals:

  • The witty and brilliant, if self-destructive, Christopher Hitchens, a friend who had second thoughts but couldn’t break with his radical faith
  • Bettina Aptheker, whose troubled life illustrates the totalitarian dimensions of radical feminism
  • Cornel West, a celebrity academic whose preposterous success is a reflection on the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the liberal culture
  • Saul Alinsky, the radical mentor of the most successful leftist politicians of our time, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama

Incisive in its critique, and alternatively moving and devastating in its portraits of leading radicals, Horowitz’s book lays bare the roots of radicalism, how it is abetted by liberalism, and how liberals have utterly failed to learn from its repeated personal and political disasters.

From the Back Cover

Praise for David Horowitz:

“David Horowitz is one of America’s most important and interesting thinkers.”
Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias

“The most brilliant political mind in America.”
Dennis Miller, author of The Rant Zone

“David Horowitz is a national treasure.”
Roger Kimball, author of The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America


Praise for David Horowitz’s previous book Point in Time:

“David Horowitz is so powerful a polemist that it is often forgotten how beautifully he writes.”
Norman Podhoretz, author of Why Are Jews Liberals?

“I have admired David Horowitz for decades. He has taught me many important lessons. But never have I been so moved by his writing as I am by this brief and profound book.”
Dennis Prager, author of Still the Best Hope

More About the Author

David Horowitz grew up a "red diaper baby" in a communist community in Sunnyside, Queens. He studied literature at Columbia, taking classes from Lionel Trilling, and became a "new leftist" during the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. He did his graduate work in Chinese and English at the University of California, arriving in Berkeley in the fall of 1959. At Berkeley, he was a member of a group of radicals who in 1960 published one of the first New Left magazines, Root and Branch. In 1962 he published the first manifesto of the New Left, a book titled, Student, which described the decade's first demonstrations.

Horowitz went to Sweden in the fall of 1962 where he began writing The Free World Colossus, his most influential leftist book. In the fall of 1963 he moved to England where he went to work for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and became a protege of the Polish Marxist biographer of Trotsky, Issac Deutscher, and Ralph Miliband, an English Marxist whose sons went on to become leaders of the British Labour Party. While in England Horowitz also wrote Shakespeare: An Existential View, which was published by Tavistock Books. Under the influence of Deutscher, he also wrote Empire and Revolution: A Radical Interpretation of Contemporary History, 1969.

In 1967, Horowitz returned to the U.S. to join the staff of Ramparts Magazine, which had become a major cultural influence on the left. In 1969 he and Peter Collier, who became his lifelong friend and collaborator, took over the editorship of the magazine. Collier and Horowitz left Ramparts in 1973 to write three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987).

During these years Horowitz wrote two other books, The Fate of Midas, a collection of his Marxist essays and The First Frontier, a book about the creation of the United States. Following the murder of his friend Betty van Patter by the Black Panther Party in December 1972 and the victory of the Communists in Indo-China, which led to the slaughter of millions of Asians, Horowitz and Collier had second thoughts about their former comrades and commitments. In 1985 they published a cover story in the Washington Post called "Lefties for Reagan," announcing their new politics and organized a Second Thoughts Conference in Washington composed of former radicals. Four years later they published a book of the articles they had written about their new perspective and themovement they had left which they called Destructive Generation.

In 1997, Horowitz published a memoir, Radical Son(1996), about his journey from the left. George Gilder hailed it as "the first great autobiography of his generation," and others compared the book to Whittaker Chambers' Witness.
In 1988, Horowitz and Collier created The Center for the Study of Popular Culture (the name was changed in 2006 to the David Horowitz Freedom Center) -- to create a platform for his campaigns against the Left and its anti-American agendas. The DHFC is currently supported by over 100,000 individual contributors and publishes FrontpageMagazine.com, which features articles on "the war at home and abroad," and receives approximately a million visitors per month. In 1992, Collier and Horowitz launched Heterodoxy, a print journal which confronted the phenomenon of "political correctness" focusing on the world of academia for the next ten years. In the same year he and film writer Lionel Chewynd created the "Wednesday Morning Club," the first sustained conservative presence in Hollywood in a generation. In 1996 Horowitz created the Restoration Weekend, which for the next two decades feature gatherings of leading conservative political, media and intellectual figures. In 2005 Horowitz created the website,DiscoverTheNetworks.org, an online encyclopedia of the political left, which has influenced the works of a generation of conservative journalists and authors.

With the support of the Center, Horowitz continued his writing about the nature and consequences of radical politics, writing more than a dozen books, including The Politics of Bad Faith (2000), Hating Whitey & Other Progressive Causes (2000), Left Illusions (2003), and The Party of Defeat (2008). His Art of Political War (2000) was described by Bush White House political strategist Karl Rove as "the perfect guide to winning on the political battlefield." In 2004 he published Unholy Alliance, which was the first book about the tacit alliance between Islamo-fascists in the Middle East and secular radicals in the west.

Horowitz has devoted much of his attention over the past several years to the radicalization of the American university. In 2001 he conducted a national campaign on American campuses to oppose reparations for slavery 137 years after the fact as divisive and racist, since the since there were no longer any living slaves and reparations were to be paid and received on the basis of skin color). His book Uncivil Wars (2001) describes the campaign and was the first in a series of five books he would write about the state of higher education.

In 2003, he launched an academic freedom campaign to return the American university to traditional principles of open inquiry and to halt indoctrination in the classroom. To further these goals he devised an Academic Bill of Rights to ensure students access to more than one side of controversial issues and to protect their academic freedom. In 2006, Horowitz published The Professors (2006), a study of the political abuse of college classrooms. Indoctrination U., which followed in 2008, documented the controversies this book and his campaign had created. In 2009, he co-authored One Party Classroom with Jacob Laksin, a study of more than 150 college curricula designed as courses of indoctrination. In 2010, he published Reforming Our Universities, providing a detailed account of the entire campaign.

Along with these titles Horowitz wrote two philosophical meditations/memoirs on mortality, The End of Time (2005) and A Point in Time (2011), which summed up the themes of his life. A Cracking of the Heart (2009) is a poignant memoir of his daughter Sarah which explores these themes as well.
Many have commented on the lyrical style of these memoirs. The literary critic Stanley Fish, a political liberal, has described The End of Time as "Beautifully written, unflinching in its contemplation of the abyss, and yet finally hopeful in its acceptance of human finitude."

In 2013 Horowitz began publishing a ten volume series of his collected journalistic writings and essays under the general title The Black Book of The American Left. The first volume, My Life & Times, was published in 2013; the second, Progressives, in 2014. The Black Book is filled with character and event--with profiles of radicals he knew (ranging from Huey Newton to Billy Ayers), analysis of the nature of progressivism, and running accounts of his efforts to oppose it. When completed, The Black Book will be a unique chronicle of the political wars between left and right as seen by an observer who has made a significant impact on both sides of the during his political and literary careers.

Cultural critic Camille Paglia has said of David Horowitz: "I respect the astute and rigorously unsentimental David Horowitz as one of America's most original and courageous political analysts. . . . I think that, a century from now, cultural historians will find David Horowitz's spiritual and political odyssey paradigmatic for our time."

Norman Podhoretz, former editor of Commentary magazine, says of Horowitz: "David Horowitz is hated by the Left because he is not only an apostate but has been even more relentless and aggressive in attacking his former political allies than some of us who preceded him in what I once called 'breaking ranks' with that world. He has also taken the polemical and organizational techniques he learned in his days on the left, and figured out how to use them against the Left, whose vulnerabilities he knows in his bones."

A full bibliography of Horowitz's writings is available at: http://www.frontpagemag.com/bibliography

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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He is an excellent, informative writer.
non-fiction fan
I hope all who read understand that these are the people running our current government.
drohan00
It gives real insight into the motives and methods of radicals of all ages.
Rick D. Roskelley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I just got this sent to me in the mail by Regnery and I'm very pleased. Few people on this earth know the political left as well as David Horowitz. He is a meticulous and revealing historian of radicalism and continues to be one in these pages. The writing here is the quality of "The Politics of Bad Faith" and I'm glad to see that he penned it without a coauthor. All Horowitz, all excellence! These chapters are thoroughly fleshed out portraits of leftist regressives who so dominate and paralyze our country at present. Probably the best known in this collection are Christopher Hitchens and Cornell West, but I found his examination of the two feminist figures to be most enlightening as they characterize perfectly the dysfunction and mental disturbance that is feminism. The finest chapter may be chapter six concerning Saul Alinsky titled, "A Radical Machiavelli." However, every paragraph is educational and of value. Radicals is a must read in this election year. I hope the majority of Americans are able to "wake up" this November and end our nation's dalliance with socialism. David Horowitz continues to be a first class author long after the passing of his 70th birthday. That's great news to every conservative. In my view, Mr. Horowitz is an American monument.
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83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Paul Schnee on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"A map of the world that did not show Utopia", said Oscar Wilde, "would not be worth consulting." In this regard Wilde foreshadowed the preference of most of the characters described in "Radicals, Portraits Of A Destructive Passion" a new book by David Horowitz.

Horowitz has written over 20 books, numerous articles and has appeared on countless television programs. It is fair to say that he possesses a keen perception and an unusually incisive mind. As a radical during the 1960s, whose parents were staunch members of the Communist Party, he was the editor of Ramparts magazine and was involved in almost every cause dear to the heart of the Left. In his new book he reveals the tune the Devil is whistling and does so with a precision that comes from whistling it so long and so well himself.

The second paragraph of his introduction gives a hint of what is to come: "The desire to make things better is an impulse essential to our humanity. But taken beyond the limits of what is humanly possible, the same hope is transformed into a destructive passion until it becomes a desire to annihilate whatever stands in the way of the beautiful idea. Nihilism is thus the practical extreme of the radical project. Consequently, the fantasy of a redeemed future has repeatedly led to catastrophic results as progressive radicals pursue their impossible schemes."

To illustrate this Horowitz describes his dealings with, and knowledge of, a cast of characters some of whom had "second thoughts" but could never quite discard the squalid sort of romantic idealism that so often led to evil confirming Benjamin Franklin's observation that "inclination is too strong for reason.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Saul Alinsky, "dedicates his signature work, "Rules for Radicals," to the devil, the
first rebel."

Alinsky also preached "The American System should be burned to the ground, but to achieve this goal you must conceal your intentions. Conceal the goal and you can accomplish anything."

This is an important book about radicals written by a former radical who finally decided that utopian societies were only fantasies that could never actually exist.

In 232 pages and six chapters plus a short introduction David Horowitz shines a spot light on several important radicals including Alinsky and Obama. The six chapters are titled "The Two Christophers, Feminist Accuser, Cultural Decline, Pardoned Bombers, Liberated Woman," and "A Radical Machiavelli."

The last chapter is mostly about Saul Alinsky and his two most famous long-term practitioners and acolytes, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

"By profession Saul Alinsky was a `community organizer,' but like everything else in his political life the term was a calculate camouflage for his real agenda, which was a world-transforming revolution (the original title of his most famous book was "Rules For Revolution"). Alinsky's preferred identification was `rebel,' and his entire career was devoted to the destruction of America's social order, which he regarded as oppressive and unjust, and--in his words--worthy of `burning.'"

"Alinsky came of age in the 1930s, where he was drawn to the world of the gangsters he encountered while doing field studies as a graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago.
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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Carl Pearlston on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is another in a series of excellent books by David Horowitz on the destructive effects of Leftist/Radical politics by those who call themselves Progressives, but who are in truth Socialists/Communists, in eternal, but hopeless, search for the promised Communist Utopia or Promised Land. Horowitz offers compelling portraits of key figures in the Progressive pantheorn, such as Christopher Hitchens, Cornel West, Saul Alinsky, Bettina Aptheker, along with other lesser known radical actors like the bombers Linda Evans and Kathy Boudin, all discussed with penetrating, incisive insights into their motivations, rationalizations, and writings. It is a thoroughly engrossing book, hard to put down, and one of Horowitz's best in showing that the inevitable result of the Leftist revolutionaly aspiration is chaos, which leads inexorably to a totalitarian state.
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