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Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't) Paperback – Bargain Price, September 9, 2008

2.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“For anyone interested in politics--this book is a must-read.” (William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard )

“This brilliant, entertaining, and honest book repairs conservatism’s moral compass...” (John J. DiIulio, Jr., professor, University of Pennsylvania, and First Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives )

“...thoughtful and provocative...you will be well-served to sit down and read this important book.” (Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT) )

“Gerson has been hailed as the finest presidential speechwriter in fifty years and this book shows why.” (Michael Cromartie, Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center )

“One of the brightest thinkers in America gives us a compelling conservative manifesto...” (Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship )

“A well written and engaging memoir.” (Weekly Standard )

From the Back Cover

Michael Gerson, who penned most of George W. Bush's inspiring speeches, is considered by many Democrats and Republicans to be the most influential White House speechwriter since the Kennedy administration's Ted Sorenson. Known around the administration as the 'moral compass,' Gerson was more than a speechwriter, he was also a trusted insider helping to make policy decisions. In HEROIC CONSERVATISM, he uses his own experiences in the upper tier of the Bush White House to make his point that America needs a conservatism that is heroic in its aspirations -- this includes such 'compassionate conservative' social strategies such as continued international AIDS funding, anti-poverty initiatives, and a government leadership rooted in moral values. Written in Gerson's own accessible voice and with his unique ability to frame complex issues in a way that both challenges and inspires, HEROIC CONSERVATISM is a new manifesto for the Republican party and a fascinating memoir of a history-shaping Presidency. THIS IS A COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS BOOK.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061349518
  • ASIN: B003F76D1A
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,739,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm not a republican (even though I often lean their direction when I vote). I consider myself pro-life, Christian independent. I often find myself in strong disagreement with the republican party, but in his book "Heroic Conservatism", Mr. Gerson presents a view I understand and want to support. I strongly disagree with republicans that claim that government is our problem, and with democrats that believe government is responsible for all the problems. I believe in smart and efficient government that serves his people with care, compassion and respect.

For me, this book was stimulating and thought-provoking. Thank you Mr. Gerson!
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Format: Hardcover
Since becoming a columnist for The Washington Post, Michael Gerson (former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush) has become one of the most piquant pundits in the commentariat. This book reiterates much of the substance of those columns, and is thus somewhat disappointing, as it reveals Gerson to be more a talented journalist than a sustained thinker. Nonetheless, Heroic Conservatism deserves serious attention for its efforts to outline a politics based radically on upholding human dignity.

As Gerson notes, this idea is grounded in both American notions of natural rights and Roman Catholic social teaching, with its tandem emphases on subsidiarity (which favors a decentralized polity in which government does only what civil society cannot) and solidarity (which recognizes the responsibilities that all citizens have for one another, but especially for the most vulnerable; it therefore urges a "preferential option for the poor."). Such a notion overcomes the unnatural bifurcation in American politics between a right that attends almost wholly to limiting government and therefore denies its ability to ameliorate human suffering effectively and a left that has been at the forefront of movements for social justice but is often suspicious of, or impatient with, the efforts of non-governmental institutions like traditional religion, the family, and states and localities. Gerson's call for a political vision that recognizes the legitimate role of the state in providing for the common good while respecting the value of "little platoons" in fostering social and cultural renewal will appeal to those like him who wish to be "pro-life and pro-poor...[who] have often felt homeless in the traditional camps of American politics.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm about 2/3 of the way through this fine work! Mr Gerson is doing a wonderful job of portraying how Conservatism works so well in this nation. We need to embrace it with all we have! It's a really good look also at President G. W. Bush's policies which, for the most part, I fully embraced!
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Format: Paperback
I found this book somewhat interesting in that it gave me a view of the Bush Administration that I would never have imagined (I always thought Bush was a self-centered creep, but this writer adduces a great deal of evidence that Bush does in fact have a caring side). But I was hoping it would be more about vision and manifesto for the future, and instead the majority of it was just banging on about this and that event during the Bush years -- it's much more a memoir than an exploration of ideas, and it's mostly in the service of proving that President Bush wasn't as bad as many people thought. After a while I got tired of hearing about flying around with Condi Rice or having lunch with this person or that. There are some political ideas in here, but there's also a ton and a half of reminiscing.
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Format: Hardcover
Sorry, but I'm just finishing the audiobook, and I find this the most bracing, honest, forward-looking view of Conservatism that I've ever read. The word that best comes to mind in describing my reaction to Gerson's ideas is "thrilling." He's a passionate man who acknowledges mistakes during his time in the Bush administration, but who never backs down from compassion and decency.

Can compassion and decency - "idealism," in the words of Gerson's book - go horribly wrong when forming policy? Yes. We've seen that on both sides of the aisle, and earlier examples soured me completely on the government's role in doing good to and for others. But in recent years, I've had to rethink that. Government CAN be a force for good, when used appropriately. And that's a Conservative view, involving defense spending, war spending (in some cases), and, of course, spending on more immediate needs here at home, like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But it also refuses to turn a blind eye toward a massive humanitarian crisis in Africa, toward Islamic militants, toward regimes based on tyranny.

I'm sorry if that sounds like political "rhetoric" to some. To me, it sounds like common decency. The sooner we acknowledge urgent needs here and abroad, the better for BOTH political parties, and the better for our country as a whole.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was disappointed with this book. As a liberal, I was hoping to read a book that would give me a clear understanding of what it means in the post-Bush era to be a conservative. I wanted to understand the conservative vision for the United States. Unfortunately, this book did not satisfy that hope.

In terms of what I did not like about this book, let's put first things first. It is frustrating when an author quotes someone without providing any footnotes. None of the quotes provided any reference. There were some quotes that I found hard to believe. Now I am not saying that the author was not quoting accurately, but I was very interested in seeing the context of the quote. Since there were no footnotes or endnotes it would be difficult to follow up on the quote.

Also, he would state things as if they were facts, but I am not sure of the basis of those facts. For example, he noted that a person was a constitutional expert. Who says? I looked up the person on Google and I found some one with the same name who is a law professor in Florida. Even if that were the right person, which I am not sure, does that make them an expert? I could find no writings by that person. Maybe that person is a constitutional expert, but I see nothing that supports the claim.

All that aside, what I disliked the most about the book is the very heavy bias. It was more of a defense of the Bush administration than anything else. When referring to liberals they were judged most harshly. I would expect that from a liberal, but when evaluating the conservative position the author glossed over some very big moral failings. For example, he referred to what the Bush campaign did to John McCain in 2000 as a "hard fought campaign.
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