The Reactionary Mind

Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump
Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (175 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In The Reactionary Mind, Robin traces conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution. He argues that the right was inspired, and is still united, by its hostility to emancipating the lower orders. Some conservatives endorse the free market; others oppose it. Some criticize the state; others celebrate it. Underlying these differences is the impulse to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality - while simultaneously making populist appeals to the masses. Despite their opposition to these movements, conservatives favor a dynamic conception of politics and society - one that involves self-transformation, violence, and war. They are also highly adaptive to new challenges and circumstances. This partiality to violence and capacity for reinvention have been critical to their success.

©2011 Oxford University Press, Inc. (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The Reactionary Mind has emerged as one of the more influential political works of the last decade." (Washington Monthly)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is a brilliant book.

In short if you want to understand Conservatism not in the terms it prefers but from the level of it's DNA I don't know if there is better than this. This book is insightful, direct, and deeply thought out. It isn't about looking for some mystical, morally lazy middle ground it's about defining what Conservatism wants and how it acts. Pair it with Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians" and you'll have the essence of Conservatism in it's starkest relief. This is a research document not an editorial, I can't recommend it enough.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting and informative book, but narrators voice is difficult to listen to

The content of the book is excellent and very well reviewed elsewhere. While the narrators cadence is fluent, there is what I can best describe as an hysterical edge to his voice, almost as if he is screaming. It is very difficult and rather riding to listen to for more than a few minutes. I gave up on the audio book after three chapters and bought and read the physical book.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

An Important Book, but a Sub-Optimal Reader...

Corey Robin makes a first-class contribution to political literature in this explanation of how and why "conservatives" think the way they do...Too bad the narrator wasn't up for this particular job...Listen to the sample and make your own decision...Thanks!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, a bit disorganized

This books responds to a need. What's been needed is a theoretical elaboration of political conservatism. There have been plenty of those but, for the most part, they have been provided by conservatives so they were partisan and they were attempting to redefine the movement.

What Corey Robin provides is a survey of conservative theory and some practice. In chronological order, Robin takes his survey through Hobbes, Burke, Nietzsche, Hayek and Austrian school, mid-century American reaction, Ayn Rand, Bush-era neocon warmongering, Scalia, and Trump. Robin posits a unifying definition of reaction throughout.

The biggest shortcoming is the episodic nature of the survey. As this plays out throughout the book, the chronology is not as clean as it should be and the consistency of the episodes changes throughout the survey. For instance, after moving on from Burke, Robin circles back to him in subsequent chapters for additional excursions. This time and space would have been better spent flushing out one of the main premises of the second half of the book, where Robin posits two strains of reactionary types, following in the lineage of Nietzsche and the militaristic type on the one hand and on the other hand the Austrian school and the captain of industry entrepreneur type.

Despite these shortcomings, it is still an enjoyable book. Robin was responding to a need and he contributed to the literature on conservatism and reaction by do so. While he didn't write the definitive guide to conservatism and reaction, he did provide an edifying and at times stimulating tome.

1 person found this helpful

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Insightful and Timely

This book took me on a journey from the origins of right wing conservatism to the Trump era and left me with a new understanding of reactionary politics.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Updated in 2016/17, but already far our of date.

the pace at which things have changed in the last two years render this book moot as an insight into modern conservatism. but it is interesting to learn its history.

2 people found this helpful