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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For more than two centuries, our political life has been divided between a party of progress and a party of conservation. In The Great Debate, Yuval Levin explores the origins of the left/right divide by examining the views of the men who best represented each side of that debate at its outset: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. In a groundbreaking exploration of the roots of our political order, Levin shows that American partisanship originated in the debates over the French Revolution, fueled by the fiery rhetoric of these ideological titans.

Levin masterfully shows how Burke's and Paines differing views, a reforming conservatism and a restoring progressivism, continue to shape our current political discourse—on issues ranging from abortion to welfare, education, economics, and beyond. Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Washingtons often acrimonious rifts, The Great Debate offers a profound examination of what conservatism, liberalism, and the debate between them truly amount to.

Review:

"Two seminal thinkers anticipate the modern split between progressives and conservatives in this insightful study of 18th-century political theory. National Affairs editor Levin presents a lucid analysis of the ideological confrontation between Paine — a firebrand of the American and French Revolutions who championed a program of radical change that sought to reconstitute government on the basis of reason, equality and democracy — and Burke, the Irish statesman and British parliamentarian who defended the enduring value of tradition and hierarchy. In their jousting — the two men were acquainted and sometimes aimed broadsides at one another — Levin finds and elucidates fundamental issues in political philosophy: individual rights versus social obligations; the extent to which scientific rationalism and expertise can comprehend and regulate society; revolution and reform as competing modes of political change. Appropriately, Levin spends less time on Paine, whose creed of individual rights and representative government feels very up-to-date, than he does explicating Burke, whose rationales for monarchy and social subordination can seem antiquated and mystical; he succeeds in establishing the continued relevance of Burke's thought and prescient critique of revolutionary excesses. Levin's Paine and Burke don't line up perfectly along the Democrat/Republican divide, but he unearths the roots of latter-day convictions in their far-reaching argument." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Yuval Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the founder and editor of National Affairs. A contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and National Review, he lives in Maryland.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780465050970
Author:
Levin, Yuval
Publisher:
Basic Books (AZ)
Author:
Yuval, Levin
Subject:
Modern - 18th Century
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Subject:
Politics - General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20131231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 13
Language:
English
Pages:
296
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 18th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left New Hardcover
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Product details 296 pages Basic Books (AZ) - English 9780465050970 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Two seminal thinkers anticipate the modern split between progressives and conservatives in this insightful study of 18th-century political theory. National Affairs editor Levin presents a lucid analysis of the ideological confrontation between Paine — a firebrand of the American and French Revolutions who championed a program of radical change that sought to reconstitute government on the basis of reason, equality and democracy — and Burke, the Irish statesman and British parliamentarian who defended the enduring value of tradition and hierarchy. In their jousting — the two men were acquainted and sometimes aimed broadsides at one another — Levin finds and elucidates fundamental issues in political philosophy: individual rights versus social obligations; the extent to which scientific rationalism and expertise can comprehend and regulate society; revolution and reform as competing modes of political change. Appropriately, Levin spends less time on Paine, whose creed of individual rights and representative government feels very up-to-date, than he does explicating Burke, whose rationales for monarchy and social subordination can seem antiquated and mystical; he succeeds in establishing the continued relevance of Burke's thought and prescient critique of revolutionary excesses. Levin's Paine and Burke don't line up perfectly along the Democrat/Republican divide, but he unearths the roots of latter-day convictions in their far-reaching argument." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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