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The Conservative Sensibility

Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 24 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, a monumental new reflection on American conservatism, examining how the Founders' belief in natural rights created a great American political tradition - one that now finds itself under threat.

For more than four decades, George F. Will has attempted to discern the principles of the Western political tradition and apply them to America's civic life. Today, the stakes could hardly be higher. Vital questions about the nature of man, of rights, of equality, of majority rule are bubbling just beneath the surface of daily events in America. 

The Founders' vision, articulated first in the Declaration of Independence and carried out in the Constitution, gave the new republic a framework for government unique in world history. Their beliefs in natural rights, limited government, religious freedom, and human virtue and dignity ushered in two centuries of American prosperity. Now, as Will shows, conservatism is under threat - both from progressives and elements inside the Republican Party. America has become an administrative state while destructive trends have overtaken family life and higher education. Semi-autonomous executive agencies wield essentially unaccountable power. Congress has failed in its duty to exercise its legislative powers. And the executive branch has slipped the Constitution's leash. 

In the intellectual battle between the vision of Founding Fathers like James Madison, who advanced the notion of natural rights that pre-exist government, and the progressivism advanced by Woodrow Wilson, the Founders have been losing. It's time to reverse America's political fortunes. 

Expansive, intellectually thrilling, and written with the erudite wit that has made Will beloved by millions of fans, The Conservative Sensibility is an extraordinary new book from one of America's most celebrated political writers.

©2019 George F. Will (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A monumental achievement. The Conservative Sensibility is not a 'Washington book' about partisan politics - it's much bigger than that. It's a career capstone that will stir your soul with its passionate reminder of what conservatism really means. Buy it, read it, share it." (Senator Ben Sasse, New York Times best-selling author of Them and The Vanishing American Adult)
 

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Conservativism explained and in practice

George Will does a good job of explaining conservatism in this book. He gets into a substantial amount of analysis and thought on the subject here. George explores what it has meant to be a conservative in the past and what it should mean today.

George goes back to the founders of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and explains natural rights, how the founders wanted them in the Constitution, and how individual rights would never be inferior to government. In my opinion, the book is a peek into the intellectual architecture that makes up the ideology of conservatism. He talks about majority rule and minority opposition as well and it's context within the Constitution.

I don't want to debate George here... and without getting into in too deep, I can say my only real issue with the book is that there doesn't seem to be any wiggle room on his belief of conservatism. However; if you have read George before then you are not surprised he's binary on the subject.

Can't I believe in natural rights but also believe there's a benefit to having a progressive working government that doesn't interfere with my liberty? What if I believe in capitalism and small government but I also think regulations are sometimes needed for a healthy market? What if I believe in small government but I don't think you should cut funding to programs to the point where government doesn't work right? I just think there's room for some gray in George's world of black and white while still considering yourself a conservative.

I definitely recommend to those who want to know what it means to be a conservative, in the past and moving forward to today. While I didn't agree with George on everything and I thought he needed to be debated here and there, I very much enjoyed the book and it was very educational. George's analysis was a historical look at conservatism as well as a few insightful thoughts on what it means to be conservative today.

If you are looking for George's analysis of today's Republican party compared to conservatism of yesterday, you won't find it in this book in any real form. If you're looking for an eloquent dissection of what a conservative was and should be... look no farther.

Book was well narrated and is a "must have" for political junkies.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Hard to Describe

This book was a hodgepodge of so many topics, from Hitler to the plague, Darwin to religion, I didn’t really know what to make of the sheer volume of topics touched on or discussed at length. There were certainly nuggets throughout.

I got the sense that this book is intended to be George Will’s magnum opus, which if not, it certainly deserves to be.

I doubt I will read this book again, but I am positive I will use it as a reference book in the future.

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Essential Reading

Mr. Will is such a great thinker and word Smith. I will be listening to this book again.

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Founding Fathers wisdom explained

Those of us over 50 were taught civics and American government based the foundation of ‘Federalist vs Republican’ concepts and comprises. Too many of those arguments are no longer presented in our schools or universities. Our society seems to have forgotten the difference between needs and wants. Mr. Will does an excellent job of bribing those issues into today’s politics.

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Pedantic

This book was not written to impart information in a efficient manner. The use of language is pompous with the impression that the author’s is to show off. The narrator is filled with a sense of superiority. The exercise makes me sad because the material is important and yet the presentation gets in the way. I’m going directly to the federalists papers and may return to this book.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful