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American Conservatism [Hardcover]

Bruce Frohnen

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Book Description

15 Feb 2006
American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia is the first comprehensive reference volume to cover what is surely the most influential political and intellectual movement of the last half century. More than a decade in the makingand more than half a million words in length?this informative and entertaining encyclopedia contains substantive entries of up to two thousand words on those persons, events, organizations, and concepts of major importance to postwar American conservatism. Its contributors include iconic patriarchs of the conservative and libertarian movements, including Russell Kirk, M. E. Bradford, Gerhart Niemeyer, Stephen J. Tonsor, Peter Stanlis, and Murray Rothbard; celebrated scholars such as George H. Nash, Peter Augustine Lawler, Allan Carlson, Daniel J. Mahoney, Wilfred McClay, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, George W. Carey, and Paul Gottfried; well-known authors, including George Weigel, Lee Edwards, Richard Brookhiser, and Gregory Wolfe; and influential movement activists and leaders such as M. Stanton Evans, Morton Blackwell, Leonard Liggio, and Llewellyn Rockwell. Ranging from abortion to Zoll, Donald Atwell, and written from viewpoints as various as those which have informed the postwar conservative movement itself, the encyclopedia's more than 600 entries will orient readers of all kinds to the people and ideas that have given shape to contemporary American conservatism. This long-awaited volume is not to be missed.

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"Now American conservatism can claim another mark of distinction: an encyclopedia all its own." --"The New York Times" "For conservatives, this is the book of the year--a must-own title." --John J. Miller, "National Review Online" "The strong and interlocking entries found in this encyclopedia will make it of great value to all who are interested in American conservatism. Its clarity and richness will suggest fresh and intriguing relations among conservative ideas, thinkers, movements, organizations, and politics. Certainly for all but the stubborn, habituated, and ideologically tenacious of right and left, it will end the ironclad identity of American conservatism with the political right and the Republican party." --Joseph Amato, "Journal of Social History" "This well-edited encyclopedia arrives just as a new debate over the meaning of conservatism is opening. "American Conservatism" will prove useful for quick retrieval of basic information about key figures, events, and publications. But it promises to be especially valuable on account of its lengthier essays on a wide range of topics. No conservative--indeed, no student of American history and politics--can do without this excellent volume." --Terry Eastland, Publisher, "The Weekly Standard" "An excellent source of information and insight, "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia," is the mirror image of my own" Encyclopedia of the American Left," destined to fascinate, inform, and enrage, neither doctrinaire nor long-winded but well-written and entertaining." --Paul Buhle, Brown University "This volume is an enormously ambitious undertaking which succeeds mightily. At once both authoritative and provocative, "American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" is an indispensable reference for conservatives and those who seek to understand them." --Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online ""American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" took about 15 years to complete, and the result is --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jeremy Beer is the editor in chief at ISI Books. His essays and reviews have appeared in First Things, Catholic Social Science Review, Touchstone, and the New Pantagruel. Bruce Frohnen is Associate Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law and the author of Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville (University Press of Kansas, 1993) and The New Communitarians and the Crisis of Modern Liberalism (University Press of Kansas, 1996). Jeffrey O. Nelson is Vice President, Publications at ISI, founding publisher of ISI Books, co-editor of Remembered Past: John Lukacs on History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge?A Reader (ISI Books, 2005), editor of Henry Regnery's Perfect Sowing: Reflections of a Bookman (ISI Books, 1999), and Russell Kirk's Redeeming the Time, (ISI Books, 1999).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Academic Conservatism 13 Mar 2006
By Larry Arnhart - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
No other book provides such a rich survey of the intellectual history of American conservatism. With almost 1,000 pages of entries written by some of the most prominent American conservatives (people such as Russell Kirk, M. E. Bradford, and Murray Rothbard), this is now the one book that must be read if one wants to understand American conservatism.

This comes at a good time, because American conservatives are wondering about the future of conservatism in America. The current debate over whether President George Bush and his neoconservative supporters have betrayed the conservative movement manifests this new period of conservative self-examination. This book will help conservatives to reconsider their complex history and their possible future.

My judgment might be biased because I was involved in the original launching of this project by Greg Wolfe in 1990. I have five articles in the book--on "Intelligent Design Theory," "The Scopes Trial," "Social Darwinism," "Sociobiology," and "Herbert Spencer." My articles reflect a desire to persuade conservatives that Darwinian science supports conservative social thought. But that is a minority view in this book. The more common conservative scorn for modern science is stated in M. D. Aeschliman's article on "Science and Scientism."

The one clear weakness in this book is that it does not really cover the full history of the American conservative movement. It stresses the intellectual or academic side of conservatism as dominated by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (the publisher of the book) and NATIONAL REVIEW. It gives almost no attention to the most populist elements of the conservative movement. For example, there is not a single reference to Billy James Hargis, to John Stormer's book NONE DARE CARE IT TREASON, or to J. Evett Haley's book A TEXAN LOOKS AT LYNDON. Hargis was a Christian conservative who once broadcast his radio program in the 1960s on over 200 radio stations. Hargis's book A COMMUNIST AMERICA, MUST IT BE? was widely distributed. The books by Stormer and Haley sold millions of copies in 1964, during the Goldwater presidential campaign against LBJ. People like Hargis, Stormer, and Haley were far more popular than William Buckley or Russell Kirk in the 1960s.

I understand, however, that the editors of this enclyclopedia want to make the history of American conservatism intellectually respectable by concentrating on the more purely academic levels of the movement.

In any case, no one can think seriously about the intellectual history of American conservatism without reading this book. And in helping us to understand the past history of conservatism, this book could help us to foresee the future promise of conservatism in America.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everybody's a Conservative! 19 Nov 2008
By Kevin M. Derby - Published on
This is a very useful book and it covers a number of famed and forgotten men and movements. The book is excellent in covering the various aspects of American conservatism. Neocons, paleocons, Catholic cons, Confederate cons, libertarians, all are pretty well covered. The articles are concise and well written. The chief problem with the book is how broad it is. Everybody in American history is a conservative! Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Daniel Webster and John Randolph. William Jennings Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Eugene McCarthy and Joe McCarthy. As American conservatism tries to redefine itself after the 2008 debacle, this book shows the various options and the various conflicting currents that will shape today's debates.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Increase your conservative vocabulary... 7 July 2006
By Earth that Was - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of my favourite `encyclopedic dictionaries', an underappreciated genre if there ever was one. The "American Conservatism" now stands pride of place along side two worthy peers. Namely Robert Nisbet's superb "Prejudices - A Philosophical Dictionary" and Richard Milner's "Encyclopedia of Evolution", a dictionary style encyclopedia of Darwinism that spans not only the science, but the history, pop and folklore of evolution.

I can see the critics pounding away at their word processors now. They'll say the volume doesn't give sufficient cubic mass to George W Bush and his merry band of Vulcans; or that the neocon movement doesn't get the required number of column inches; or that GOP Republicanism herein seems more a trickle than the mainstream. And why does Eugene McCarthy seem to get more coverage than Tailgunner Joe McCarthy?

I can see their point, and there are a few facets of American conservatism that I would have liked to have seen better represented. For instance, that rare, but tough sub-species, the American monarchists. There are at least two that I can think of. Charles A. Coulombe, a traditionalist defender of throne and altar, who hails from Hollywood, and Hans Herman Hoppe, an anarcho-monarchist libertarian professor from that hive of chivalry, Las Vegas.

Still I think this kind of word processor pounding is misplaced. The book is, after all, a single volume encyclopedia / dictionary. It is meant to be comprehensive in width, not depth. That's what is great about it. It is meant to sacrifice detail for coverage. It is more important that conventional narrative histories dive deeper into the murky depths of the mainstream. The dictionary format, in contrast, gives a Cooks' Tour of the lesser known, but rarely paddled alternative creeks, tributaries and billabongs. And that's what "American Conservatism" does superbly.

The pounders' may as well criticize the Oxford English Dictionary for being full of words most of us never use. That's the point. Dive in and increase your conservative vocabulary.
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reference work 6 Feb 2013
By Lars Eleon Troide - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This work is a treasure trove of lengthy and informative articles on prominent figures, movements and concepts in American conservatism. It ranges across three centuries, and also includes important foreign figures who have influenced America (such as Margaret Thatcher). Educators, philosophers, religious leaders, economists, novelists, poets, literary critics, journalists, etc., are all represented. Highly recommended.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful encyclopedic compendium on the American conservative movement 31 Oct 2006
By R. Setliff - Published on
~American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia~ is an insightful encyclopedic compendium offering a survey of the American conservative movement and its diverse elements. The publisher Intercollegiate Studies Institute makes it clear that the focus is upon a distinctively American conservative movement, particularly in its postwar mold following the Depression and World War II. This insightful reference book covers a litany of iconic personalities, people, events, organizations, and concepts of major importance to the American conservative movement. One thing ISI does surprisingly well is achieve a balance while allowing for a profile of an older traditional conservative thought. In the twentieth century, the political fortunes of conservatism are too often measured merely by the successes of the Republican Party. This encyclopedic reference, however, points readers to a diverse, broad conservative movement within the United States. To many outsiders, the conservative movement suffers from a crisis of identity as avowed neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, traditionalists, libertarians, and those who simply call themselves "conservatives," cling to the conservative movement. However, as this encyclopedia makes clear, the diversity of the movement is its strength, and the ensuing debates between its varied elements, has contributed to the advancement of the nation. The American conservative movement will perhaps allow for a brighter future for ordered liberty, a renewed culture and a more vibrant civil society. Herein, this volume, the student finds an erudite window into that American conservative movement. Understanding the movement, its history, and its impact, is integral to sustaining its impact on society for the better in the twenty-first century.

This powerful tome features articles from one of my former professors Dr. S.A. Samson as well.
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