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Histoire Du Na(c)Oconservatisme Aux Atats-Unisby Justin Vaisse
Synopses & Reviews
Neoconservatism has undergone a transformation that has made a clear identity almost impossible to capture. The Republican foreign policy operatives of the George W. Bush era seem far removed from the early liberal intellectuals who focused on domestic issues. Justin Vaïsse offers the first comprehensive history of neoconservatism, exploring the connections between a changing and multifaceted school of thought, a loose network of thinkers and activists, and American political life in turbulent times.
In an insightful portrait of the neoconservatives and their impact on public life, Vaïsse frames the movement in three distinct ages: the New York intellectuals who reacted against the 1960s leftists; the “Scoop Jackson Democrats,” who tried to preserve a mix of hawkish anticommunism abroad and social progress at home but failed to recapture the soul of the Democratic Party; and the “Neocons” of the 1990s and 2000s, who are no longer either liberals or Democrats. He covers neglected figures of this history such as Pat Moynihan, Eugene Rostow, Lane Kirkland, and Bayard Rustin, and offers new historical insight into two largely overlooked organizations, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger. He illuminates core developments, including the split of liberalism in the 1960s, and the shifting relationship between partisan affiliation and foreign policy positions.
Vaïsse gives neoconservatism its due as a complex movement and predicts it will remain an influential force in the American political landscape.
"The influential neoconservative movement is a complex and often surprising thing in this incisive historical study. Brookings Institution senior fellow Vasse subdivides the movement's dramatic evolution into three distinct 'ages.' Neoconservatism began in the 1960s, he contends, with a purely domestic agenda: to yank the Democratic Party away from what were seen as the excesses of the New Left and the failures of the liberal welfare state. It shifted focus in the 1970s and '80s to a crusade against the Soviet empire, and allegiance to Ronald Reagan. And it wound up in the 1990s as a faction of the Republican Right, espousing a utopian mission of spreading democracy through military force. Vasse examines the intellectual evolution of leading neocon thinkers like Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and William Kristol; explores the impact of neocon journals and think tanks; and recounts the movement's love-hate relationships with Democratic and Republican administrations. His critical but evenhanded treatment brims with insights, including his intriguing but underdeveloped analysis of neoconservatism as a latter-day Jacobinism fusing militant nationalism with universalist ideology. Vasse's is one of the most lucid and sophisticated accounts yet of this crucial political force." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Vaïsse, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, delivers a thoughtful and balanced narrative history of the neoconservative movement. To account for apparent discontinuity within the movement, the work is divided into three ages detailing the common threads of the philosophy as it wends its way from a post World War II liberal response to international communism, through a rejection of the cultural upheaval and New Left of the late 1960s, to its current incarnation, anchored firmly in the Republican right and leading the charge of an interventionist, exceptional American role in world affairs. Well researched and benefiting from an easy style and excellent translation from the French by Arthur Goldhammer, this work will appeal to both a general audience and more advanced students of American domestic politics and foreign policy. Annotation Â©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Justin Vaïsse is Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.Arthur Goldhammer received the French-American Translation Prize in 1990 for his translation of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution.
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