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Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind) [Paperback]

By Justin Raimondo & George W. Carey (Introduction by)
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Item description for Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind) by Justin Raimondo & George W. Carey...

In recent years a number of conservatives have wondered where the Right went wrong. One persuasive answer is provided by Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement. Justin Raimondo’s captivating narrative is the story of how the non-interventionist Old Right—which included half-forgotten giants and prophets such as Sen. Robert A. Taft, Garet Garrett, and Col. Robert McCormick—was supplanted in influence by a Right that made its peace with bigger government at home and “perpetual war for perpetual peace” abroad. First published in 1993, Reclaiming the American Right is today as timely as ever.

The latest volume in ISI Books’ Background series, this edition includes a new introduction by Georgetown political scientist George W. Carey, Patrick J. Buchanan’s introduction to the second edition, and new critical essays on the text by Scott Richert, executive editor of Chronicles, and David Gordon, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   369
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 15, 2008
Publisher   Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN  1933859601  
ISBN13  9781933859606  

Availability  0 units.

More About Justin Raimondo & George W. Carey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Justin Raimondo is editorial director of, a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute, and author of "An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard,"
George W. Carey is professor of government at Georgetown University. He is the author or editor of many books, including The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (with Willmoore Kendall) and, from ISI Books, "Liberty and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate,"

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory

Reviews - What do customers think about Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind)?

A look back that's essential for looking ahead  Aug 17, 2008
I've wanted to read this book for a long time, and was very happy when ISI announced its republication earlier this year. Certainly worth the wait, it ended up being more than I expected. While the jury is still out, I'm inclined to agree with Scott P. Richert in the first of two "critical essays" added to this new edition that "Reclaiming..." is "well on its way to being considered a classic of American political conservatism, on the order of those works of Albert Jay Nock and John T. Flynn and Garet Garrett which are discussed herein" (p. 299).

Other authors before and since 1992, when "Reclaiming..." was first published, have told the history of the Old Right and made the case that American conservatism did not, as I put it in another review, spring fully-formed from the brows of Buckley and Burnham at a "National Review" editorial conference in 1952. Few of those other authors, though, can match the depth of Justin Raimondo's research, the apparent range of his reading, or his skill in tying it all together.

At least until we get a chance to see Bruce Ramsey's brand-new "Unsanctioned Voice - Garet Garrett, Journalist of the Old Right," "Reclaiming..." may be the definitive taxonomy of his place in the history of American conservatism. Raimondo's salvaging of this all-but-forgotten writer -- and his fascinating and important proof of the influence of Garrett on Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" -- are alone worth the price of the book.

"Reclaiming..." was first published in 1993, and wasn't updated for this new edition (except for the addition of those "critical essays"). It therefore doesn't address George W. Bush and his form of "conservatism," the war on terror and the expansion of empire both at home and abroad, or, most recently, the Ron Paul campaign and the thousands of newly-minted Revolutionaries it raised. Though that makes it obvious this book is 15 years old, you could almost claim Raimondo saw it coming. His sections on the neocons and their imperial project more than stands the test of time.

Where this book ended up surprising me (though having read some of the author's other works and having met him a few times many years ago, it probably shouldn't have), though, is that it's not only a well-researched and documented history, but also a spirited call for the intellectual heirs of the Old Right to, well, reclaim the American Right. His energetic defense of Pat Buchanan, his takedown of the myth of Rand as philosopher-sui-generis, and his feisty rejection of American Empire all deserve close reading. And as someone admittedly prone to Nockian pessimism, I found his invocation of Rothbard's driving optimism a valuable tonic.

One of Raimondo's major documentary sources, in fact, was Rothbard's then-unpublished manuscript for "The Betrayal of the American Right." Now that it too is in print, these two titles together make for great, indeed I'd argue essential, reading for today's conservatives, both newly-minted members of the Ron Paul Revolution and those weaned on Ann Coulter (if you'll pardon the imagery) and Fox News. The idea that we can ever escape our history is a profoundly Leftist one. Fortunately, the American Right has a history that not only is worth studying, but one its heirs can learn and take inspiration from.
Retracing the steps of the long march from Trotskyism to Neoconservatism   May 12, 2006
Great eye for detail. Author traces the rise of "neoconservatism" (surely a contradiction in terms) in the US from it's beginnings amongst 1930s Trotskyites and hard line anti-communist liberals and social democrats in the cold war.

Justin Raimondo shows how these groups were alienated by the developments on the American left during the post-Vietnam era and thus migrated to the right becoming a key part of the Reagan coalition. This faction displaced older line isolationist conservatives. It's not just the defection of former leftists to right as individuals, it was a factional migration.

The trail for the neocon migration of the 1970s was blazed for them by a previous generation of National Review affiliated "New Right" thinkers in the 1950s such as James Burnham.

There is a most interesting profile of Trotsky's main US apostle, Max Schactman. Max had raced to Trotsky's death bed after Stalin had him killed. Max never had the actual elective surgery that converts leftists to a fully fledged neocon, he remained a lifelong socialist. Max saw Washington as the real centre of the true revolution for global social democracy. He even saw the JFK / LBJ's interventions in Cuba and Vietnam as the historically "progressive" force versus Fidel and Ho Chi Minh, essentially reactionary fascist nationalists in marxist drag. The shadow of Max and Leon now influences US policy. Unfortunately.
The True Origins of Neoconservatism  Jan 1, 2003
Justin Raimondo has written a fairly respectable book on the history of American Conservatism within the 20th century and how it has changed as a result of World War II and the subsequent Cold War Era. However, in the first chapter covering the legacy and significance of James Burnham (an anti-communist conservative), it is erroneously stated that Burnham was the first "neoconservative." Neoconservatism was an intellectual movement whose pedigree can be traced back to the founding of a publication called "The Public interest" by Irving Kristol in 1965. James Burnham was one of the first conservatives however to identify this movement's first emergence within political circles in 1972 during the Nixon years. For a more accurate and complete account of the achievement as well as significance of James Burnham within the context of 20th century conservatism, I would highly recommend Sam Francis's book "Beautiful Losers."
Recovering the Old Right  May 25, 2000
In this excellent book, Justin Raimondo breathes new life into the forgotten icons of the Old Right. These figures include -- among others -- Albert Jay Nock (who was in fact regarded as a "leftist" for part of his career), H.L. Mencken, Frank Chodorov (born Fishel Chodorovsky -- did you know that? I didn't), Garet Garrett (author of _The Driver_, which Raimondo argues may have been an important unacknowledged source for Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED), John T. Flynn (who among other things wrote a scathing expose of Roosevelt and the "New Deal"), Rose Wilder Lane (author of _The Discovery of Freedom_), and Isabel Paterson (author of _The God of the Machine_ and the former guru of Ayn Rand).

Raimondo also discusses the hijacking of the Right by Bill Buckley and the neoconservatives, doing a much better job than Rand did in her little puff piece, "Conservativism: An Obituary." In fact Raimondo is careful to acknowledge all the genuine conservatives Rand left out of her "obituary"; rather than simply declaring conservatism dead, as Rand did, Raimondo wants to recover it from the people who almost destroyed it in favor of militaristic Statism.

Raimondo also discusses some genuine contemporary conservatives, including the late great Murray Rothbard (Raimondo is also the author of a soon-to-be-published biography of Rothbard), and provides a ringing defense of Pat Buchanan against a number of unfair attacks -- though he also harshly criticizes Buchanan's stand against free international trade. (The back of the book features an endorsement from Buchanan, by the way -- a little tribute to the intellectual integrity of both men.)

His remarks on Rand will also be of interest to bemused watchers of the "Objectivist" movement. Despite some obvious respect for her talents as a novelist (he thinks, and I agree, that _The Fountainhead_ was her best work and ATLAS SHRUGGED was pretty kludgy), he does not spare the rod as regards her pretensions of originality, her claim to stand within no pre-existing tradition whatsoever, her intellectual fraud in each of these respects, her failure to give proper credit even to those of her forebears who were directly influential on her thought (Isabel Paterson being the primary example), and her endorsement of several policies that would have been anathema to the Old Right. I suspect that Raimondo would be happy -- and I know I would -- if Rand were publicly exposed as a pretentious, pseudophilosophical, cult-mongering fraud, discredited as a representative of the classical-liberal Right, and recognized as the "leftist" she really was. (And any "Objectivists" reading this review are hereby invited to click "Not helpful.")

At any rate Raimondo's workmanlike volume belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in recovering the genuine tradition of liberty. His efforts to restore the memory of an important and all but forgotten strain of American thought will be of interest to libertarians and classical liberals everywhere.

A Legacy Worth Discovering  Feb 19, 2000
Justin Raimondo's "Reclaiming the American Right" is one of the most fascinating political books I have ever read. I first read this work a couple of years ago, but return to it often because the stories of the various figures of the Old Right are so relevant to the current political situation. This book should be required reading for all who associate the word "conservative" with "troglodyte" or "warmonger". It wasn't always so! The "Old Right" conservatives were very interested in personal liberty and bitterly opposed to war and the Merchants of Death who profit from them. They saw that in trying to police the world, America would lose it's liberty. Garet Garrett, John T. Flynn, Frank Chodorov ... these are names that deserve to be widely known, men whose works should be read as an antidote to the interventionist dogma of our times. Raimondo performed a valuable service in presenting their views to a new generation.

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