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They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons Paperback – January 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Persuasive, wide-ranging. . . . Heilbrunn takes a long, nuanced measure of the neocon policy revolution.”
—The New York Observer
“Excellent. . . . Heilbrunn adroitly surveys the movement's history from the Trotskyist alcoves of the City College cafeteria up to the present day.”
—The New York Review of Books
“Thorough . . . fair. . . . They Knew They Were Right will fit nicely on the rapidly expanding shelf explaining Iraq.”
—The Washington Post
Top Customer Reviews
The primary problem with this book is the lack of rigor, as noted in the Publisher's Weekly review (on this Amazon page). I have no doubt that Heilbrunn is very familiar with what he's writing about, but often the book ends up just being one journalist's long thoughts on the subject, rather than a well-crafted argument. Obviously this book is not supposed to be an academic monograph, but more documented sources would have helped immensely. Too often I just had to take Heilbrunn's word for claims he was making, which meant that for much of the book I wasn't sure how much to believe. At other points, the author fails to develop important arguments, giving more space to the personalities and mind-set of his subjects. Finally, I don't think Heilbrunn gives enough space to key arguments of critics outside the neocon movement (as opposed to critics who were former friends or associates of key neocons - we do get to hear from them).
So, read the book for Heilbrunn's insights, gained from extensive face-to-face exposure with the key players, but don't expect this to be a rigorous book of political analysis.
But Heilbrunn fails to see one important factor in neoconservatism. It is the Jewish American attempt to purge from Jewish life all sympathy for left-wing causes. In fact, Jews from the late 19th Century were always, when not orthodox, in favor of radical socialism and communism. As a result rightwing movements in Europe could also appeal to anti-Semitism. Hitler benefited from this enormously. Jews prospered in Bolshevik Russia (see Yuri Slezkine's fine book THE JEWISH CENTURY.) Neocons began by attacking Jewish disabilities in post-Stalinist Russia, which they always exaggerated, then they recruited Scoop Jackson to interfere with our economic relations with the USSR over the question of Jewish emigration. All this was a mascarade to make Jews look rightwing and thereby patriotic in America. But Jews still vote largely for the Democratic Party despite the neocons.
The neocon conservative movement is not a Jewish plot -- but it comes close.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is so wrong, progressives at the best. Iran is a ticking bomb, this author as no idea what is next. ISIS is coming at us hard, yet the author has no clue. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Todd
This really helps fill in the political gaps between th 1930s and the present day. A key question in the evolution of American thinking is how a group of relatively liberal... Read morePublished on July 9, 2011 by J. Smallridge
This book was copyrighted in 2008. This becomes important when you read some of the things he says, and you wonder, "When was this written ?". On page 1, and I quote, "As George W. Read morePublished on May 4, 2011 by sailor41072
Purchasers and would-be purchasers of this book should be aware of the following article about it in the March 9, 2009 edition of "The Nation," hardly a magazine that would set... Read morePublished on March 10, 2011 by Aslanscub
This book gets off to a good start. I first offers a vision of where the US and the world would have stood in 2009 if all had turned out according to the neocons plan. Read morePublished on February 6, 2009 by Etienne RP
Heilbrunn provides a biography of the neoconservative movement that has created the "biggest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam" (Iraq War II), and may lead us to another in... Read morePublished on March 14, 2008 by Loyd Eskildson
The Neocon leadership is smarting from the overwhelming publicity of their foreign policy failures. Jacob Heilbrunn brilliantly chronicles their path of shame. Read morePublished on February 11, 2008 by Thomas the Twin