Written during a time when liberalism was heralded as the only political and intellectual tradition in America, there is no doubt that this book is largely responsible for the rise of conservatism as a viable and credible creed.
Kirk defines "the conservative mind" by examining such brilliant men as Edmund Burke, James Fenimore Cooper, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Disraeli, Cardinal Newman, George Santayana, and finally, T.S. Eliot. Vigorously written, the book represents conservatism as an ideology born of sound intellectual traditions.
©1986 Russell Kirk; (P)1989 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Kirk is assured a place of prominence in the intellectual histories for helping to define the ethical basis of conservatism. He has tried to pull conservatism away from the utilitarian premises of liberalism, toward which conservatism often veers, toward a philosophy rooted in ethics and culture." (Wall Street Journal)
This book should be read/listened to - not for correctness - and not for conclusions - but because it broadens the background of almost every reader by presenting competing viewpoints to those propagated by academia and the popular media.
I have only "read" about a third of the book, but felt I needed to add to the comments available. The book addresses the contributions of significant individuals to conservative thought. It attempts to put their thoughts in the context of the times and lives of those people. I would not consider the book a collection of biographies. I believe that one of the purposes of the book is to create an interest in the reader that will lead him to go to the writings of the people mentioned. In my case it succeeded. A couple of other comments: Mr. Kirk tends not to define the terms that he uses, so the reader is left to find the definitions himself, or find the definition well after the term is first used. I also sometimes found the book a little hard to follow as I was listening, and had to refer to a text copy. I would definitely recommend the book, especially to those looking for the basis of conservative thought.
My favorite aspects of "The Conservative Mind" were the author's summaries of the beliefs of Burke and Macaulay. Indeed it is far easier to understand Burke and Macaulay by reading "The Conservative Mind" than it is to read the works of those authors directly.
I also like when Kirk points out repeatedly a fact that most people seem to hide themselves from today: that most people don't know or understand anything about government and therefore universal suffrage democracy backfires.
Kirk loses me with his insistence that protection of property rights cannot come about from people following the path of enlightened self-interest. Instead, Kirk insists that religious morality is the only way to convince people to protect property rights.
But, besides that one issue, the book is excellent and well worth reading.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
The book is excellent, stimulating and informative -- even for a thoughtful liberal. Phillip Davidson, however, is not a good reader because there is too much dynamic variation in his speaking voice -- i.e., he will utter one syllable of a word clearly and distinctly, then drop his voice for the rest of the word or sometimes even the phrase, making it very difficult to catch what he is saying. A good reader needs more consistent volume and phrasing than Davidson has. Unfortunately, his reading voice is an impediment to the enjoyment of an otherwise excellent experience.
Audible is essential to me as sleep.
This book was well read and reflected the text of the book. However, it reviews rarely read books.
It has not.
The material is useful and valuable. However, it is tedious.
Religious people who already think political conservatism requires believing in god.
Not opened with an interminable insistence that godless people can't possibly be conservatives.
I don't remember the performance. I just remember the subject matter.
Frustration. If it had been hard copy, maybe I could have flipped around looking for the meat. As it was he just went on and on insulting my lack of religion, without ever getting around to politics, until I gave up on it.
Johnathan Haidt's _The Righteous Mind_ is fascinating stuff, on a related topic. As is Tamim Ansary's _Destiny Disrupted_.
I was hoping for an introduction to Conservatism, and its under pinning philosophies. All that this book provides is an over wordy, and boring uncritical recitation of the lives of the author's heroes.
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