Before heading off to hear George Nash's talk at the Heritage Foundation yesterday I happened to have a look at the new Fall/Winter 2006/7 catalog from ISI Books, which had just arrived on my desk. Even by the usual high standards of ISI Books, there are some exceptional offerings coming later this year. October brings the 30th anniversary edition of Nash's seminal Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, with a new preface — ten years after Nash last revised the work. I'll be interested to see his take on developments in conservatism between Dole and Bush II. (His Heritage talk gives me a pretty good idea of what to expect, I think.) The same month also sees the advent of the paperback edition, also with a new introduction, of Jeffrey Hart's The Making of the American Conservative Mind. Bruce Bartlett recommended the book to attendees at the Robert Taft Club last week, and I'll add my endorsement: if Nash's book is the definitive history of intellectual conservatism from '45 to '75 or so, Hart's book gives something of the flavor and spirit of life at National Review while the movement was at its apogee — a view from within to complement Nash's scholarly view from without. We also get Hart's thoughts on the depleted state of conservatism in the Bush era, something which I'm sure the new introduction will expand upon.

ISI's big book for November, bigger even than its 650 pages might suggest, is The Solzhenitsyn Reader, edited by Daniel J. Mahoney and Edward Ericson, Jr. "More than one quarter" of the book's material "has never before appeared in English," according to the catalog. Nonetheless, I'm personally more eagerly looking forward to another November title, The Essential Russell Kirk, edited and with an introduction by Modern Age editor George Panichas. Panichas is one of the few people who can be trusted to get Kirk right and to shed some new light on a man often treated more as a figurehead than as the idiosyncratic thinker that he was. The Essential Russell Kirk includes 44 essays — "Kirk was perhaps at his best as an essayist," the ad copy suggests, and setting aside The Conservative Mind and one or two other major works, that may well be true. Also in November, readers of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons will enjoy Joseph Pearce's Small Is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered, in which Pearce revists the work of E.F. Schumacher. (If I were a physician, I might have to prescribe a megadose of Mises to go with that, though.)

Meawhile, I'm working my way through the 900 or so pages of American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia in order to give it a proper review, which so far few outlets have afforded this tremendous work. Look for it in a few weeks.


3 thoughts on “Cataloging

  1. Kenneth R. Gregg June 20, 2006 / 5:37 am

    Do you really think that Panichas gets Kirk right? I do hope that the collection is good, and you are certainly right–Kirk was best as an essayist.

    I fear that I haven’t read any of the updates of Nash’s book, and probably should. I’ve turned my attention to other early American/British classical liberal/libertarian sources and have travelled far from his “Conservative Intellectual…” Some of my comments and researches are at Liberty & Power blog and my website.

    Alas, so many books to read, library stacks to search!
    Best to you,
    Just Ken

  2. David Gordon June 20, 2006 / 1:31 pm

    Among National Review editors, Kirk is usually contrasted to the supposedly more libertarian Frank Meyer, but Kirk favored a much less militaristic foreign policy than Meyer. His criticism of the neoconservatives on foreign policy is also notable.

  3. Daniel McCarthy June 21, 2006 / 6:35 am

    Thanks for the comments. For all Kirk's hammering away at libertarians, calling them "chirping sectaries" and whatnot, he was almost always critical of the consolidated state. And as Dr. Gordon points out, he had somewhat better antiwar credentials than might be supposed (as well as opposing the draft, most of the time anyway). Kirk, being the symbol of the plumb-line traditionalist right, is always a target for revisionism, and I don't want to try to make him out to be a libertarian — but, well, quite a bit of his early, pre-St. Andrews writing was recognizably in a Nockian vein. (I seem to recall that in his introduction to Nock's Jefferson Kirk discusses his own past Jeffersonianism subsequent turn away from it.)

    Ken, you're not missing too much with the revised 2nd edition of Nash's book, which adds a 10-page epilogue to bring the text up to date through 1991 but with so little space available necessarily gives only a cursory treatment to the neo-paleo disputes and other recent developments. I get the impression from Nash's talk at Heritage that he's aware of how much the rise of the Religious Right and neoconservatism has rendered the old, tripartite construction of the conservative intellectual movement — libertarians, cold warriors, trads — obsolete. The conservative movement is now something different from what Nash was describing originally, and the second edition tried to patch the two together in a way that I don't think was altogether successful. (I'm going to try to work up my notes from the Nash talk and a few other things into a piece for LRC in the next couple of days — I'll go into more detail then.)

    Panichas is so far removed even from latter-day traditionalists that I do think he will present Kirk in truer light than most other editors would be able to do. Panichas will come to Kirk through an Irving Babbitt lens, and while I know there are disagreements over in just what ways the New Humanists influenced Kirk, I'll take my chances with Panichas rather than having a neocon or even a newfangled post-culture-war traditionalist reinterpreting him.

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