The book under consideration is a meticulously researched and spectacularly fair look at the ascend of conservatism as a political force in America. What is more is that that book itself is a captivating look at why America is a basically conservative place, and why even noninterventionist Democrats — on the far Left by U.S. principles would be centrists, or even conservatives themselves, in Europe. Despite the fact that this last may be an distasteful idea for the American Left to have to think about, even readers on that side of the political continuum will find a lot in here to advocate it.
What a reader would find most useful in the book is the authors’ argument of the true function and authority of the much-maligned neo-conservatives. Distant from their so-called role as the murky masterminds behind unilateralism, preemption, and other Bad Things in American foreign policy, Micklethwait and Wooldridge dispute that the neo-cons are less high-ranking than traditionally imagined, and that Bush’s pronouncements along with the other policies are unswerving with the expansive range of traditional opinion, not the produce of an obscure Straussian corner of it. With all the panic-stricken concentration given to the neo-cons these days, this part of the discussion that has been presented by the author would strike one as delectably tranquil and rational.
With the investigative distance that comes from not being Americans themselves, Micklethwait and Wooldridge have keen approaches into the accomplishments and breakdowns, the high-quality and the appalling, of American conservatism. And while their work is perceptive and methodical, it is also well written, enthralling, and even, now and then, flat-out funny. The polished prose that is presented in it makes it easy to read, and the equilibrium of individuality and issues keeps it from getting caught up in difficult to understand policy debates or analysis of election returns. One would be providential to be able to submerge into the pages for hours at a time, and would hardly ever found oneself bored or skimming.
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