In the second half of the twentieth century, American conservatism emerged from the shadow of New Deal liberalism and developed into a movement exerting considerable influence on the formulation and execution of public policy in the United States. During that period, the political philosophers who provided the intellectual foundations for the American conservative movement were John H. Hallowell, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, John Courtney Murray, Friedrich Hayek, and Willmoore Kendall. By offering a comprehensive analysis of their thoughts and beliefs, The Dilemmas of American Conservatism both illuminates the American conservative imagination and reveals its most serious contradictions. The contributing authors question whether a core set of conservative principles can be determined based on the frequently diverging perspectives of these key philosophers.
"The Dilemmas of American Conservatism does something no other book does: it bridges the gap between the philosophical articulation of conservatism and the chronicling of the development of conservatism as a self-conscious political movement." —Daniel J. Mahoney, author of Bertrand de Jouvenel: The Conservative Liberal and the Illusions of Modernity
Would that I had thought of editing this outstanding book, which merits the attention of all thoughtful students of American political thought. Among edited works on conservatism The Dilemmas of Conservatism is a tour de force. In both depth and breadth it is an exceptional contribution to the literature, worthy of scholarly attention and classroom use.—Charles W. Dunn, author of The Enduring Reagan
"The modern conservative movement may seem incoherent precisely because it is incoherent. The movement did not grow out of a single sacred text or a from the mind of a demogogue or philosopher. Rather, conservatism has been influenced by the thought of numerous thinkers, both ancient and Modern. Deutsch and Fishman have done an admirable service by bringing together scholarly and accessable essays on nine of the most important conservative political thinkers of the 20th century. By focusing on the foundational thinkers rather than the momentary political debates, Deutsch and Fishman have done us a great service in helping us make sense of the modern conservative movement. Lost in the prattle of policy wonks and the heated rhetoric of talk radio is a deep and thoughtful conservatism exemplified by the nine political thinkers here profiled. The Dilemmas of American Conservatism is essential reading for anyone attempting to come to grips with how we got where we are. The ideologues have come to dominate much of what passes for conservatism today, but Deutsch and Fishman render a great service in reminding us of the giants who provided the intellectual groundwork for what became the movement that changed America."—Gary L. Gregg, Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville