Book Review: 11 Essential Conservative Thinkers You Won’t Read In College (But Should)

11 Essential Conservative Thinkers You Won’t Read In College (But Should), by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute

This particular ebook was brought to my attention when it was posted by one of my friends on Twitter, who happens to be the author of a book I have read and enjoyed.  As it happens, the ebook was a free one, and the people who wrote it are also the publishers of a whole host of books that relate to conservative education which I will (hopefully) be reviewing very shortly.  The premise of the book is a very obvious and worthwhile one, pointing out that while college students are often made to be familiar with various leftist thinkers, that conservative thinkers of a much better pedigree and a much higher degree of worth [1] are often unknown to young people because universities in general do not wish to promote worldviews antithetical to their own, much less when those worldviews are much more appealing and beneficial than the ones they peddle to students with such enthusiasm.  This little book, therefore, seeks to promote the writings and explain the lives and worth of those thinkers who may fall in the cracks of many people’s education.

This short book only takes up a few pages but manages to successfully provide paragraph-length bios of eleven thinkers that are worth knowing, quite a few of which I have already read and some of which I look forward to reading in the future.  Edmund Burke is rightly praised as the father of modern conservatism and his principled opposition to the French Revolution and its utopian ideals is well worth emulating.  Frèdèríc Bastíat is one of my all-time favorite writers of economics, if not at the top of the list, and he is praised here for his political soundness and for his humanity and defense of human dignity.  De Tocqueville is a writer whose sound judgments on America’s culture and political destiny is well worth becoming familiar with and something I have read since my youth.  I was less familiar with Röpke, but as an Austrian economist I imagine I will come across his works eventually.  Voegelin’s views on ordered liberty are something I would like to know better also, and Harry Jaffa ranks as one of my favorite writers ever, whose books on Lincoln and Shakespeare are absolutely essential reading.  After this the authors discuss two thinkers I was unfamiliar with, namely von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a radical critic of leftism, and Frank Meyer, whose work helped to fuse religious conservatives and defenders of free market and small government.  After that the author discusses Russell Kirk, whose genealogy of conservative thinkers is essential reading, and the energetic William F. Buckley.  Finally, the author closes with Patrick Buchanan, a writer who, even where I often disagree with him, is still well worth knowing.

What sort of conservative thinking do you get when you look at these eleven thinkers put together?  For one, this ebook promotes the understanding of conservatism as an intellectual movement with some serious heft.  Most of the writers included here are thinkers of the first order in various fields.  There are other threads that show, as the thinkers included here were, in general, those who were opposed to the use of military and government efforts to form and shape people like clay.  The thinkers here were in favor of ordered liberty, but not crusaders who sought to spread European and American culture and freedom through military means.  If they are not exactly pacifist thinkers, one does not find an imperialist or a warmonger among the lot.  In addition, the thinkers included here tended to work to build bridges between those who could be judged as different types of conservatives.  And so we find those who helped religious and social conservatives like myself come to terms with those whose conservatism is focused on small government and free markets and greater government restraint being praised, as well they should be.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to Book Review: 11 Essential Conservative Thinkers You Won’t Read In College (But Should)

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: A Student’s Guide To Economics | Edge Induced Cohesion

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