Edmund Fawcett’s Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition is an expansive volume covering conservative thought and practice since the late 18th century. Authored by a former political correspondent and literary editor of the prestigious British weekly the Economist, this book is unmatched in the scope and breadth of its treatment of the subject. Fawcett earlier published a study of similar range entitled Liberalism: The Life of an Idea (2014), and together these volumes provide a learned account of how two political traditions have shaped the rise and development of liberal democracy.

The present work is perhaps best described as part encyclopedia and part critical history. Its encyclopedic section includes a thumbnail biographical sketch of some 200 conservative notables, a Who’s Who of the entire school: political leaders from Benjamin Disraeli to Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, intellectuals from Edmund Burke to Irving Kristol and the late Roger Scruton. Another entry is a lexicon of keywords relating to conservatism, including such well-known classic terms as “prescription” and “tradition” and more recent and ambiguous expressions like “moderate-radical” and “hard right.” Only the most conscientious of readers, and honest of reviewers, are likely to make their way through this abundance of material, which mostly

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