Andrew Bacevich’s conservative anthology is a progressive’s selection of the best of the American Right.
The Library of America’s anthology of conservative writing shares the idiosyncrasies of its editor. Andrew Bacevich is a citizen-soldier-scholar with a long history of publishing in conservative periodicals. He is also, by his own lights, a conservative. But he is a conservative in opposition to other conservatives, and the chief influences on his mature thought have been the progressive historians Charles Beard and William Appleman Williams, along with the liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Bacevich is trenchantly critical of U.S. foreign policy, but he is neither a libertarian non-interventionist nor a paleoconservative America Firster. He is rather a modern exemplar of anti-war progressivism.
He has assembled an excellent collection in American Conservatism. But it is in effect a progressive’s selection of the best of the American Right, fortified with several items from out-and-out socialists or Left liberals who make arguments with which the editor sympathizes. These items are, for the most part, invigorating reading in their own right. They are also, however, an admission of defeat: Bacevich has failed to find within the conservative tradition itself, even as broadly defined as it is in these pages, sufficient material to support his own principles.
The book contains selections from 44
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