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Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism Hardcover – November 2, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

"George Nash is the dean and the leading light of historians of the American conservative movement. No one knows more about American conservatism’s past, and in Reappraising the Right he shares that knowledge with us, and also his wisdom about where conservatism can go from here."
MICHAEL BARONE, coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics

"A tour de force. Exhaustively researched and brilliantly written, Reappraising the Right further solidifies Nash’s sterling reputation as America’s premier intellectual historian of conservatism. No student of American political philosophy and politics should be without this sequel to Nash’s landmark work The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. The two constitute the bookends, the alpha and omega, to understanding conservatism in America."
CHARLES W. DUNN, Regent University, editor of The Future of Conservatism

"George Nash, the preeminent historian of American conservatism, brings to this far-reaching work a vast and unsurpassed knowledge of the political and intellectual revolution that occurred in postwar America with the rise of the Right. There are many books on conservatism, but this is one that needs to be read both by those unfamiliar with the story and by political insiders."
DONALD T. CRITCHLOW, Saint Louis University, author of Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism

"When George Nash speaks, conservatives listen—especially when he reassures us in this splendid and perceptive book that we have a future as well as a past."
LEE EDWARDS, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought, the Heritage Foundation

"Scholars and laymen alike will profit from these pieces. They are a joy to read and fine specimens of the historians craft. . . Reappraising the Right is worth purchasing for the chapters on Jewish conservatives alone, and historians of 20th century intellectual thought will find much to value in this book."
History News Network

"This new book may provide the single most lucid analysis available of the varieties of American conservatism and their common convictions, mutual opponents, and underlying antagonisms. . . . It persuasively argues that to persevere today, conservatives must learn in changed circumstances how to preserve its sources and navigate its crosscurrents. . . . A graceful and incisive exploration of the history of conservatism in America."
The Weekly Standard

“[Nash] has impeccable scholarly credentials . . . [and] brings to the current subject a historian’s perspective and an unwaveringly irenic temper. . . . Nash’s interest in things conservative is so catholic and comprehensive that very little of what needs to be said about modern conservatism is left out.”
First Things

“Even for those who are familiar with his subject, there is much in these essays that is new and insight¬ful. . . . Whether talk¬ing about conservative think tanks, the influence of the Southern Agrarian Richard Weaver, the ambivalences of Whittaker Chambers, William F. Buckley Jr.’s writing habits, or the career of Herbert Hoover, Nash is usually enlightening.”
The American Conservative

“Nash’s pellucid prose ensures that scholars and laymen alike will profit from these pieces. They are a joy to read and fine specimens of the historian’s craft. . . . Nash is a genteel and charming writer, fair-minded, and a meticulous researcher.”
History News Network

“Masterful . . . Eloquently and engaging¬ly, [Nash] unveils the story of one of this nation’s most important intellectual and political movements of the 20th century—the conservative move¬ment. . . . Nash’s book gives the best and most complete history of American religious conservatism anywhere.”

“An intriguing look at the right end of the political spectrum, highly intriguing reading.”
Midwest Book Review

"Those readaing Nash's collection of essays and addresses will gaingreater leverage in evaluating much of the recent writings that foretell conservatism's imminent doom"

Ever since Democrats surged back into power, liberals have jubilantly proclaimed that conservatism is dead, both intellectually and politically—and some on the Right seem half-inclined to agree. Conservatives, trying to regroup, now must ask themselves: How did their once-dominant political and intellectual movement end up in such disarray? And where is it headed?

The preeminent historian of modern American conservatism, George H. Nash, tackles these crucial questions in the indispensable new book Reappraising the Right. Nash, the author of the seminal work The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, provides a bracing perspective on conservatism’s present predicament by reexamining the roots and achievements of the contemporary American Right.

Drawing on more than thirty years of study and reflection, Reappraising the Right ranges far and wide. It showcases Nash’s brilliant insights on such conservative luminaries as Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley Jr., Russell Kirk, and Whittaker Chambers, and on less well-known but nonetheless profoundly important individuals who laid the foundations for modern conservatism. The book also features Nash’s surprising and provocative perspectives on Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, neoconservatism and “crunchy conservatism,” National Review and Commentary, economists and intellectuals, think tanks and colleges, the Great Depression, and much more.

Finally, Nash turns directly to the question of the hour: the future of the conservative movement. With a perspective liberated from the provincialism of the present, he provides an enlightened and enlightening assessment of the prospects for American conservatism. Nash frankly analyzes the causes of the Right’s present discontent and the dangers that lurk ahead, but also reminds readers of hopeful portents that conservatives have overlooked.


About the Author

George H. Nash, a frequent contributor of articles on American conservatism, Herbert Hoover, and related topics, lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1 edition (November 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935191659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935191650
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,284,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Davis on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
One might not know it, especially if you listen to talk radio today, but there were brilliant conservative intellectuals in American history. Many of them are discussed in the book, including Wilmoore Kendall, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and (gasp!) Herbert Hoover. Nash does a terrific job of explaining the philosophy of these men in relatively short essays. Nash is one of the few writers anywhere who will defend Herbert Hoover--give him credit for original thinking. Of course, Ronald Reagan is discussed. I highly recommend Reappraising The Right to any follower of politics, whether conservative or liberal.

My only criticism of the book is the chapter on the Coolidge-Hoover relationship, which seemed somewhat irrelevant to me and out of place in a book about ideas. I would have preferred to have a chapter on maybe James Burnham or someone else influential. Notwithstanding this flaw, it was still a terrific read.
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Format: Hardcover
I am very sad to say that I am thoroughly disappointed in Reappraising the Right. But, it's only fair to point out that I read it right after finishing Nash's masterpiece, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America and, perhaps naively, presumed it would continue at the same scholarly and philosophical height.

The problem, for me, is that the "masterpiece", The Conservative Intellectual Movement, was a broad, objective and insightful history of the conservative movement in America from 1945 to 1976, with ostensibly no axe to grind; whereas, the current book is merely a selection of Nash's essays from 1987 to 2009. Unfortunately, essays, because of their inherent concision are poor media to convey ideational range -- Nash's putative gift -- and his pieces, consequently, suffer from this deficeincy.

Yes, the conservative minds he speaks of in Reappraising The Right are worth understanding, but his depictions of them are often relatively tedious, less than crisp, and somehow do not command attention, as they did in his "masterpiece", where they were, in large measure, relentlessly magnetic.

Well, it's probably a little unfair to hold anyone's work up to their magnum opus. You only get one of those.
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Format: Hardcover
In his 1950 work, "The Liberal Imagination," Lionel Trilling famously stated that American liberalism was the one true political philosophy, claiming it as the nation's "sole intellectual tradition."

Unknown to him, two young men -- one toiling as a professor at Michigan State Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) and the other finishing his degree at Yale University - would publish two articulate, galvanizing works. The first, Russell Kirk, unleashed "The Conservative Mind," in which he defined conservatives as being wary of change, revolutions and ideologies in the manner of Irish statesman Edmund Burke. The second, William F. Buckley, first published "God and Man at Yale" and later inaugurated The National Review, the first issue bearing Buckley's definition of a conservative as one who stands "athwart history, yelling stop!"

Slight differences, to be sure, but, as George H. Nash notes in his excellent " Reappraising the Right," these variations are indicative of the inherent schisms in the modern American conservative tradition from its beginning.

Both Kirk and Buckley agreed that the conservative tradition had its roots in spirituality -specifically, the Judeo-Christian tradition. Morality and right-thinking come not from man, but from a higher power. Furthermore, humankind will continue to succumb to the temptations and appetites of the flesh it has been heir to since the Fall. The two men took as articles of faith that humanity is not perfectible and that the striving for earthbound utopias is foolhardy.
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