Glenn Ellmers has produced the first book dedicated to the life and thought of Harry V. Jaffa (1918–2015). Given the importance, scope, and complexity of Jaffa’s work, no doubt there will be more.

A senior fellow with the Claremont Institute and visiting research scholar at Hillsdale College, Ellmers treats the reader to a brief, delightful biographical précis of the boxer-violinist turned political philosopher from Long Island. He tells the story of the fateful day Jaffa visited his teacher Leo Strauss without his usual violin in tow, at which Strauss smiled knowingly, “as if to say that, in the struggle between music and political philosophy, ‘I won.’” (In the version Jaffa told me, Strauss actually said out loud, triumphantly, “I won!”)

Although the stories Ellmers includes about Jaffa’s life are delightful, the focus of The Soul of Politics: Harry V. Jaffa and the Fight for America is primarily on Jaffa’s ideas, including the arguments highlighted in sundry dialogues and disputes with wary interlocutors. One could say that Ellmers gives us the Apology of Harry Jaffa. But in contrast to the indictment of Socrates for bringing new gods into the city and corrupting the youth, Jaffa’s critics accuse him of taking God and morality too seriously and making the youth—patriots!

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