Tonight, I attended a party celebrating the release of the book Why I Turned Right. Edited by Mary Eberstadt, the book consists of essays in which twelve leading conservative thinkers explain how they ended up on the right. The essayists are: Peter Berkowitz, Joseph Bottum, David Brooks, Danielle Crittenden, Dinesh D’Souza, Stanley Kurtz, Tod Lindberg, Rich Lowry, Heather Mac Donald, P.J. O’Rourke, Sally Satel, and Richard Starr.
Unlike nearly all of the books I receive in my capacity as a blogger, I not only read this one, I devoured it. My brief review can be found here. In a more lengthy review, liberal professor Russell Jacoby, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, found that “almost without exception, each essay is lucid and articulate,” but complained that this was the result of “facile thinking.” Jacoby speculated that “prose may improve by avoiding complications.” He thus committed the fallacy he condemned elsewhere in the essay, the belief by “leftist scholars” that “clotted language confirms insight.” Follow the link back to my mini-review and read the passages I quote from Heather Mac Donald and Sally Satel. The book is full this sort of unclotted insights.
Jacoby also errs in viewing these essays as attempts comprehensively to argue particular issues. In essence, the essays are episodes from the ongoing battle of ideas in this country. That they are narrated lucidly by the best and brightest among those on the conservative side is reason enough to read the book. Collectively, moreover, the essays in Why I Turned Right provide a good sense of how the struggle has played out over the past 30 or so years, and how it might best be renewed and sustained going forward.
Power Line, we hope, plays a small role in the battle of ideas. It’s probably fanciful to believe that our work will influence anyone among the next generation of leading conservatives, but the thought that it might is a big part of why I keep blogging.
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