A fair minded, if paleo-conservative, critique and explication of Strauss. Particularly interesting is Gottfried's critique of Strauss's notions of "political philosophy" as well as his delineation between types of Straussian thinkers. The focus of this book, despite its title, is mostly aimed understanding if Strauss could be said to have a strong relationship to the conservative movement, and how different Strauss actually was from neo-conservatives and the more aggressive thinkers around Strauss's students like A. Bloom and Jaffa. The first two biographical chapters are enlightening. My primary complaint is that book could have been a little longer and more developed, although its a fairly quick read at less than 200 pages. Despite its brevity, however, this isan academic book and one should be familiar with many of the authors mentioned in it before reading.
Paul Gottfried's book on Leo Strauss is quite thoughtful and fair. I believe the problem with present so-called american conservatism does not lie with Strauss himself so much, but with his many students (i.e., Straussians) who misconstrued and twisted his many unique ideas in order fit their particular ideological agenda i.e., neo-conservatism. I also liked very much the way in which Mr. Gottfried presented all of his footnotes at the bottom of each page thereby providing for ease of reading, as opposed to placing them at the back of the work which makes it more awkward for the reader.
Anyone wondering what caused America's post-1800s change from an erratic trajectory toward prosperity, to a trajectory toward national-suicide must ask the question of, "What variables changed?" This book, covers the variables that changed within the GOP, which includes the GOP becoming increasingly infected with 'establishment' constitutional-deconstructionists and global-engineers like a cancer. 'Establishment' conservative-impostors using conservative and Christian rhetoric as a veneer to hide the fact that they co-opted and changed the GOP from being 'the party of the Constitution' ensuring security and prosperity, to being 'the lesser of two America destroying mainstream political parties.' It also evidences why, as evidenced by America's continued deconstruction since approximately the year 1900, voting for 'the lesser of two evils' in the form of ensuring a GOP 'establishment' politician is elected instead of an 'establishment' Democrat, when in fact they are the functional equivalent of 'two opposing sides on the same coin,' only serves to take America down a different 'establishment' path toward national-suicide than would have occurred had a democrat-socialists been elected. Lessor constitutional-deconstructionism merely brings less destruction in the end - but never restoration.
Moreover, it identifies the precise type of 'establishment' constitutional-deconstructionist and globalist politician that must be lawfully cleansed from the GOP, if the GOP is going to transition from being the party bringing slower destruction and destruction of different types then do Democrats, to the party that saved America from national-suicide.
This is a well researched, not to mention very balanced work by an author who is clearly an expert in this field. It is not, however, a light read for those without some philosophical and historical background.
This is a nice overview of an intellectual movement I knew of only second or third hand. Leo Strauss was a formidable scholar. Though Dr. Gottfried is certainly not a follower, he is not stinting in his praise regarding Strauss' abilities as an academic. Neither is he shy to note weaknesses and contradictions in Strauss' thought.
Most of what I had read earlier about the subject either praised him shallowly or attacked him as the demon father of the neo-conservatives. Regarding the neocons, the book has many insights. I didn't know, for example, that Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, voted Democrat. Dr. Gottfried traces the history of Strauss' influence on the American academy, and allows us to watch thereby the decay of Western thought. No one serious would name an intellectual movement after any of today's Straussians in the universities or the media.
This book will be valuable to anyone interested in the history of a school of thought now fallen into decline.