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Conservative Thinkers: From John Adams to Winston Churchill Paperback – October 11, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.



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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412805260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412805261
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Viereck ("veer ehk") is a highly-respected conservative, but there's no partisan sniping on these pages. He surveys a wide variety of personalities from the history of conservative thought. I believe this was written for college students, so it's an efficient way to get a snapshot of how each thinker influenced the core philosophy. He also describes how many contrasted themselves with liberals of their era. I was raised in a mostly liberal family, so this was an excellent introduction for me. Thankfully, Viereck omits anything reflecting the corporate-backed plutocrats now in vogue as "conservatives" in the U.S. Includes a very useful collection of excerpts from historically important conservative documents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By the end of the Second World the word “conservative” was in such ill repute that Herbert Hoover, Robert Taft, and F.A. Hayek called themselves “liberals.” They meant that they were nineteenth century liberals. This meant that they were in favor of lower taxes and less government. This in turn meant that they were what we now recognize as conservatives. Nevertheless, they shied away from describing themselves using the c word.

Peter Viereck did not. He proudly called himself a “conservative.” Nevertheless, he defined “conservative” somewhat differently than its contemporary, conventional meaning. He meant that he was an admirer of Edmund Burke, that he valued tradition, and that he was skeptical of human nature. He also meant that he was somewhat skeptical of commercial values. Indeed, he supported the New Deal and the labor movement as conservative factors in American politics, and saw businessmen as inheritors of the French Revolution.

Although Viereck did not name Edmund Burke in the title of his book, he should have. As a political way of thinking and feeling about things conservatism began as a reaction against the French Revolution. Conservatism really begins with Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution, which was written in 1790.

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Revolution-France-Dover-Editions/dp/0486445070

Before the French Revolution the Whigs and Tories in the British Parliament agreed on most issues, including restricting suffrage to those who owned a fairly considerable amount of property, mainly in land. They only disagreed on the power of the British monarchy. Tories thought the monarch should have more power than the Parliament. Whigs thought the Parliament should have more power than the monarch.
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