Back to TAC

After fifteen months away, I have returned to The American Conservative as an associate editor. I left the magazine at the end of 2006 to go to work for ISI Books; as TAC‘s literary editor, I had occasionally wondered what I should do next, and two thoughts I had were that it might be fun to work on the other side of the publishing industry, editing books rather than reviewing them, and that I’d like to do more on-line writing and editing. ISI gave me the opportunity to do both: to edit and commission books — Peter Stanlis’s Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher, Carle Zimmerman’s Family and Civilization, and Justin Raimondo’s Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement were three that I worked on — and to be involved in the creation of ISI’s web journal, First Principles.

What I found in my year at ISI was that I enjoy reviewing books and editing articles more than editing books, and as plans for First Principles underwent various changes, I left ISI and joined the Ron Paul 2008 campaign as its internet communications coordinator, overseeing its official blog, the Daily Dose. That was great fun and and exciting work in the service of the worthiest cause in politics — not just Ron Paul, but the cause of a peaceful foreign policy and strictly limited government at home. Of course, campaigns are not permanent things, unless you’re Alan Keyes, and the Paul effort began to wind down at the end of February.

Even when I wasn’t working there, I remained close to The American Conservative as a contributing editor and alumnus, so when I left the Ron Paul campaign a return to TAC seemed logical. They were willing to have me back, and so I am back. My duties now include a new TAC project whose details I can’t yet reveal, as well as a variety of editorial responsibilities. Of course, I’ll be continuing to write, too: the forthcoming issue (March 24) includes my two-in-one review of Alfred Regnery’s Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism and Donald Critchlow’s The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History.

Outside of TAC I have a few side projects humming along nicely. There should be two Robert Taft Club events in quick succession in late March and early April — more details on those very shortly. I have a couple of freelance essays and reviews in the works, and am making plans, in the abstract at least, for one or two big new initiatives. TAC, however, is where I hang my hat, and after having had the chance to try a few new things, I’m happy to be return.


9 thoughts on “Back to TAC

  1. Pingback: Back to TAC
  2. xenos March 12, 2008 / 12:00 am

    I hope that the ultra-super-mega-secret TAC project is the formation of new blogs under the TAC banner. Larison is great, and it would be wonderful to see an Atlantic style community of genuinely conservative/libertarian bloggers at TAC. Michael Brendan Dougherty (I have a feeling he’s part of this process already, but maybe not), you, maybe even Peter Hitchens or John Derbyshire or James Poulos.

  3. Daniel McCarthy March 12, 2008 / 3:37 am

    That’s not quite it but you’re not far wrong, Xenos…

  4. dylan waco March 12, 2008 / 4:08 am


    Glad to see you back full time with TAC. I look forward to the multi-pronged review of the Critchlow and Regnery books. I have not read “Upstream” yet, but read the Critchlow book when it first hit the shelves. I have mixed feelings about it, but overall think it is an interesting extension of Nash’s work into the overtly political American landscape. Interested to see your thoughts.


  5. Daniel McCarthy March 12, 2008 / 8:40 pm

    Thanks, Dylan. Upstream gets off to a slow start, with an over-the-top account of the Reagan state funeral (“America’s finest moment.”) But then it builds up momentum and becomes much better. I don’t think I’m giving away too much to say that I recommend it over Critchlow’s book. The TAC review explains why.

  6. Brent March 13, 2008 / 3:36 am

    I like reading your blog. I am only 17 and, because of Ron Paul, have gotten really interested in politics. I subscribed to The American Conservative, so I’m glad that I will be reading more from you! :).

    Btw, you have any recommendations of any books, websites, blogs, etc. for paleoconservative/libertarian thinkers? You should make a list for noobies like myself :).

  7. dylan waco March 13, 2008 / 6:53 pm


    Check out the blogroll Dan has on the site. He has a lot of interesting stuff up there.

    The archives of lewrockwell and are very well kept and have tons of stuff worth checking out.

    I hate wiikipedia, but the paleoconservative entry is filled with worthwhile links also.


    P.S. I’ll plug my own blog as well as my friend “The Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter’s page at the Charleston (SC) City Paper I hope Dan doesn’t mind the shameless self promotion.

  8. Daniel McCarthy March 15, 2008 / 12:24 am

    Hi Brent,

    I second all of Dylan’s suggestions (and I’ve added Left Conservative and Southern Avenger to the blogroll). In addition to TAC, the other paleocon magazine is Chronicles, for which I occasionally write as well. The two biggest paleo websites are and Taki’s Magazine; is essentially paleo-libertarian as well, though it caters to anti-interventionists of all stripes.

    My blogroll includes most of the prominent paleo blogs (I think), both paleoconservative and paleo-libertarian, as well as a number of non-paleo libertarian blogs and a few liberal or eclectic blogs as well.

    Where paleo books are concerned, on the libertarian side I especially recommend all of Ron Paul’s books (including the forthcoming one, The Revolution: A Manifesto, which is a great introduction); as well as Speaking of Liberty by Lew Rockwell; An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard, by Justin Raimondo and the new edition of Justin’s Reclaiming the American Right, which provides useful historical background; and David Gordon’s The Essential Rothbard, which is a great guide to the thinking of the premiere paleo-libertarian theorist. For an introduction to the Misesian side of Austrian economics, I recommend Israel Kirzner’s Ludwig von Mises.

    Bill Kauffman’s books bridge the gap between paleoconservatism and paleo-libertarianism. Check out his Look Homeward, America. He has a forthcoming book, which I’ll be reviewing, called Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism.

    On the paleoconservative side, each of Patrick Buchanan’s books focuses on a significant thread in the paleo tapestry — trade, war and foreign policy, immigration, and the decline of traditional conservatism. They’re all worth reading. For a paleocon history of the conservative movement, there’s Paul Gottfried’s book The Conservative Movement. Professor Gottfried has also written a more theoretical examination of the Right called Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right. Chilton Williamson Jr’s The Conservative Bookshelf is an invaluable paleo-guide to the canon of conservative literature — I highly recommend it. Other important paleocon books are Sam Francis’s Beautiful Losers, a paleo critique of the 1980s and 1990s right, and Thomas Fleming’s The Morality of Everyday Life.

    Several classics of conservative and libertarian literature generally are also must-reading for paleos. Robert’s Nisbet’s The Quest for Community and Conservatism: Dream and Reality are two that I value very highly. Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind is the classic exposition of traditionalist conservatism (though Kirk is critical of libertarians and classical liberals), and Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is still essential, as is Richard M. Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences. The best histories of the conservative intellectual movement and the libertarian movement are George H. Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement Since 1945 and Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism. For the pre-1945 roots of conservatism and libertarianism, there’s The Superfluous Men: Conservative Critics of American Culture, 1900-1945.

    Don’t bankrupt yourself trying to track down everything at once. Start off with whatever you can find on sale or going cheap. The books by Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, and Bill Kauffman are the best places to start, I’d say.

  9. dylan waco March 15, 2008 / 3:47 am

    Kauffman is a great starting point particularly, for younger readers. Had I never read “America First!” it is doubtful I ever would have discovered people like Murray Rothbard or Sam Francis. I would say he is the perfect “bridge” writer for younger folks interested in learning more about libertarian, decentralist, or paleoconservative ideas.

    Also I would say that the ISI published American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia is excellent both as a reference and a guidepost for the next generation of conservatives and individualists.


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