Demolition in progress

One of the reasons that the Claremont Review of Books is my favorite magazine is that each issue constitutes a virtual education in politics. Another of the reasons is that the CRB wages intellectual battle against the administrative state on behalf of the founding principles of the United States in the spirit of “rollback” as opposed to the spirit of “containment.” (Subscribe online here.) The spirit of the CRB is reflected in the admonition that accompanies messges from reader Dafydd ab Hugh: “No pussyfooting.”
The editors of the CRB have made available four pieces from the just-publshed spring issue at our request. Yesterday we posted a link to Bradley Watson’s brief essay on the debate over same-sex marriage. Today we take a look at the magazine from a different angle.
One of the manifold pleasures of reading the CRB is its occasional demolition of the work of a liberal icon. The current issue carries the unrelenting review by Angelo Codevilla of the new book by liberal warhorse Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Here the formidable Professor Codevilla teaches by example how to philosophize with a hammer: “Get serious.” Professor Codevilla writes:

To be sure, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., has spent at least as much of his career engaged in partisan activities as in scholarly ones. Nevertheless, when the author of The Age of Jackson (1945) publishes a book with the title War and the American Presidency, the reader expects a tome that sheds light on the intellectual history of American foreign relations. What he gets is a screed for the 2004 presidential campaign.
Thankfully, the outpouring is small. The contents are recycled from the author’s unconnected opinion pieces in Foreign Affairs and The New York Review of Books. The back-cover endorsements from professional partisans Walter Cronkite (“astuteness,” “brilliance”), Douglas Brinkley (“an essential manifesto”), and Robert McNamara (“contrasts the Bush foreign policy with two centuries of American experience”) are what one would expect. But the blurb by accomplished historian Robert Dallek (“a book for all seasons…an American classic”) is a sad indication of how partisanship has crushed academic standards.
Such a little book, so much embarrassment…

Don’t miss this one.


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