In Novemeber 2010 kicked off the tenth anniversary festivities celebrating the Claremont Review of Books at the Institute’s Salvatori award dinner honoring Mark Helprin in New York. Professor Charles Kesler is the founding editor of the CRB in its current incarnation and took the podium to mark the occasion following Mark Helprin’s impassioned speech.
Adding to the festivity of the occasion was the presence in the audience of Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review and author of The Death of Conservatism. Professor Kesler’s celebratory speech all by itself demonstrated that Tanenhaus’s report of conservatism’s death was greatly exaggerated — an exercise in wishful thinking. In Professor Kesler’s speech the dead man was walking.
Now comes the CRB to celebrate the milestone anniversary with — what else? — a book marking the occasion. The CRB has gathered some of its most important essays, books reviews and illustrations in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Ten Years of the Claremont Review of Books. Together, they diagnose a century of liberal excess and call for a renewed American conservatism, one that takes its bearings from the principles of the American Founding — as Professor Kesler puts it, from “our citizens’ loyalty to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the scenes, both tender and proud, of our national history.
And because man does not live by politics alone, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness touches, too, upon religion, architecture, music, manliness, feminism, film and television, Shakespeare, and other cultural themes.
Professor Kesler has adapted and expanded his celebratory speech of November 2010 into a brilliant introduction to the book. Among the contributors are a roster of conservative intellectual luminaries: Hadley Arkes, Larry Arnn, Martha Bayles, the late William F. Buckley, Jr., Paul Cantor, James Caesar, Joseph Epstein, Christopher Flannery, Harvey Mansfield, Wilfred McClay, Cheryl Miller, Jaroslav Pelikan, Joseph Tartakovsky, Peter Schramm, Michael Uhlmann, Algis Valiunas, William Voegeli, and and the recently deceased James Q. Wilson.
In this book, you might say that the conservatism that Tanenhaus pronounced dead is not only walking. The supposed dead man walks with a swagger.