Freeman

ARTICLE

Book Review: The Portable Conservative Reader edited by Russell Kirk

MARCH 01, 1983 by TOMMY W. ROGERS

(Liberty Classics, 7440 North Shadeland, Indianapolis, Ind. 46250) • 435 pages • $15.00 cloth; $7.00 paperback

The Portable Conservative Reader

edited by Russell Kirk

(Viking/Penguin, Inc., 299 Murray Hill Pkwy., E. Rutherford, NJ 07073), 1982 • 723 pages • $6.95 paperback

Here, in one handy sized volume, is a little library of distinguished writ-ing-prose, poetry, fiction, fable and myth. The anthology opens with Burke, as is fitting; forty-five pages of selections from four of his works. Then there is Adams, Hamilton, Calhoun and Cooper; Tocqueville, Disraeli, Newman and Bagehot. From the modern period there is Santayana, More, Babbitt, C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and a score of others. It all adds up to hours of reading pleasure.

Where else will you conveniently find Macaulay’s letters to Randall, Hawthorne’s fantasy called “Earth’s Holocaust,” Kipling’s fable of “The Mother Hive,” Conrad’s “The Informer,” or “The Liberal Death Wish” by Muggeridge? The imagination kindles while the intellect gets a workout.

These selections reflect Dr. Kirk’s far ranging mind in the area of man as a social being seeking freedom and order in the company of his fellows. His Introduction sets forth the essential features of the Conservative outlook and disposition, and the authors he has chosen reveal the depth and several dimensions of this philosophy.

Russell Kirk burst upon the world about twenty books ago with his Conservative Mind (1953). Four years later he launched a quarterly review, Modern Age, which has just published its Silver Jubilee Issue—248 pages of the best articles which have appeared during its first twenty-five years. There are appreciations of Mises, Hayek, Weaver, Strauss, Vivas and others. The Austrian School is surveyed by Albert Zlabinger. Several scholars assay Conservative thought during the past generation, and others explore its principal fountainhead, the philosophy of Edmund Burke.

Intellectual history has been made in our time, and Modern Age has played a significant role. (Copies of this Summer/Fall 1982 issue are available @ $2.50 by writing to Modern Age at 14 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.) []

—Edmund A. Opitz Book Review Editor

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March 1983

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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