From Publishers Weekly
"Commentary was founded soon after World War II as a magazine of ‘Jewish interest’ but its impact reached well beyond the community. For decades it has been the most admired and most hated, but also perhaps the most influential periodical of its character and size. Benjamin Balint’s fine, well written book is far more than a history, it is an important, in fact essential contribution to American cultural and political life during the second half of the last century. It is the most important work of its kind published for years.”
Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History, Princeton University
“In this eloquent and richly informed book, Benjamin Balint both tells the story of COMMENTARY as a magazine and reads it as an ‘American Talmud’--a great mass of position statements and debates, always passionate and sometimes contradictory, that illuminate the larger intellectual history of America's Jews.”
"Benjmain Balint's history of Commentary magazine is nothing less than a history of the intellectual life of Jews in America as they go from being cultural outsiders to being consummate insiders. It is written with enormous verve, capturing the many colorful characters who created and shaped a publication that was unlike anything the American-Jewish reading community had seen before. Balint's judicious, non-partisan account doesn't miss a shift in the political landscape, whether on the Left or on the Right, and he has an uncanny ability to steer clear of apologetics or screeds. This is intellectual history as it should be written: lucid, capacious and unfailingly readable."
Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2010
“[An] acutely perceptive account...As Mr. Balint’s book shows so vividly, Commentary made—and continues to make—an invaluable contribution to the politics and culture of our time.”
Huntington News (WV), June 4, 2010
"A lively, accessible history of the magazine… Running Commentary was eye-opening to me and I recommend it as not only the story of Commentary, but as a brief history of the post-World War II leftist movement and the rise of neoconservatism.”
“In meticulous detail, Balint traces the steps by which this influential and paradoxically anti-intellectual monthly reconfigured itself from a post-World War II voice of liberalism to a post-Sixties voice of conservatism…Balint explores the rich complexity of this transition, including its connection with changing attitudes toward Israel, offering colorful portraits of the key members of The Family and their intricate, shifting relationships.”
Standpoint Magazine (UK), September 2010
“Balint's riveting history of Commentary magazine is much more than an account of an influential publication. It is a chronicle of what has happened since the Second World War to American society."
Moment, October 2010
“Intellectually shrewd and tonally astute.”
“The book is far more friendly, intelligent, and elegantly written, and having been informed by the author’s term of employment at this magazine possesses some of the virtues and defects of any insider account. There is copious detail, even about familiar episodes, since unprecedented access was granted to the magazine archives. But there is also a persistently elegiac tone meant to convey the sense that Commentary’s best days are irrevocably behind it."
“In this refreshingly impartial examination of one of the 20th century’s most influential magazines that gave America novel insights into politics, culture and literature, Balint, himself a former assistant editor at Commentary who has written both for Haaretz and the Wall Street Journal, paints with precise brush strokes a nuanced and honest picture, offering readers a comprehensive study of an important chapter of Jewish American intellectual history. In prose as vivid as it is elegant, Balint proves himself worthy of Commentary’s stylistic and intellectual heritage.”
"This will be the standard history of Commentary for many years and a model of how to write the history of an intellectual journal."