“The great unsung hero of the conservative movement” —MARK LEVIN
If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.
Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923–2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right’s leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.
To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher’s voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher’s significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation’s worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.
Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher’s complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism’s leading theorists and its political practitioners.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher’s motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism’s ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.
Largely unexamined until now, Rusher’s career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.
Congress is crippled by ideological conflict. The political parties are more polarized today than at any time since the Civil War. Americans disagree, fiercely, about just about everything, from terrorism and national security, to taxes and government spending, to immigration and gay marriage.
Well, American elites disagree fiercely. But average Americans do not. This, at least, was the position staked out by Philip Converse in his famous essay on belief systems, which drew on surveys carried out during the Eisenhower Era to conclude that most Americans were innocent of ideology. In Neither Liberal nor Conservative, Donald Kinder and
Nathan Kalmoe argue that ideological innocence applies nearly as well to the current state of American public opinion. Real liberals and real conservatives are found in impressive numbers only among those who are deeply engaged in political life. The ideological battles between American political elites show up as scattered skirmishes in the general public, if they show up at all.
If ideology is out of reach for all but a few who are deeply and seriously engaged in political life, how do Americans decide whom to elect president; whether affirmative action is good or bad? Kinder and Kalmoe offer a persuasive group-centered answer. Political preferences arise less from ideological differences than from the attachments and antagonisms of group life.
Prussia's social and political structure, institutions, and values were in many ways formative for German history after 1871. After unification Prussia accounted for roughly two-thirds of the empire's size and population, but its weight within Germany was even greater because Prussia in large part molded the German identity and shaped Germany's image abroad.
The Origins of the Authoritarian Welfare State in Prussia examines this Prussian/German identity. It investigates the complex traditions of ideas, institutions, and social policy measures that lay at the root of the conservative Prussian welfare state. The examination of the ideas and policies of Prussian officials brings out a peculiar welfare state mentality of benevolence and patriarchal concern, pervaded by authoritarian streaks, that was unique in nineteenth-century Europe. In addition, the study analyzes the historiographical implications of the question of continuity and discontinuity in German history.
The Origins of the Authoritarian Welfare State in Prussia is of interest to scholars and students of German history as well as to students of governmental social policy and of the workings of a welfare state.
Hermann Beck is Associate Professor of History, University of Miami.
Not long ago Republicans took pride in their tradition of environmental leadership. The GOP helped create the EPA, extend the Clean Air Act, and protect endangered species. Today Republicans denounce climate change as a “hoax” and seek to dismantle environmental regulations. What happened? James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg provide answers.
The modern-day Renaissance man who
built the conservative movement
The polysyllabic vocabulary, the wit, the charm, the sailing adventures, the spy novels—all of these have become part of the William F. Buckley Jr. legend. But to consider only Buckley’s charisma and ceaseless energy is to miss that, above all, he was committed to advancing ideas.
Now, noted conservative historian Lee Edwards, who knew Bill Buckley for more than 40 years, delivers a much-needed intellectual biography of the man who has been called “the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century.” In this concise and compelling book, Edwards reveals how Buckley did more to build the conservative movement than did any other person. Once derided as a set of “irritable mental gestures,” conservatism became, under Buckley’s guidance, a political and intellectual force that transformed America.
As conservatives debate the ideas that should drive their movement, William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement reminds us of the principles that animated Buckley, as well as the thinkers who inspired him. Having dug deep into the voluminous Buckley papers, Edwards also illuminates the profound influence of Buckley’s close-knit family and his unwavering Catholic faith.
Edwards brilliantly captures the free spirit and unbounded energy of the conservative polymath, but he also shows that Buckley did not succeed merely on the strength of a winning personality. Rather, Buckley’s achievements were the result of a long series of quite deliberate political acts—many of them overlooked today.
William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement tells the incredible story of a man who could have been a playboy, sailing his yacht and skiing in Switzerland, but who chose to be the St. Paul of the conservative movement, carrying the message far and wide. Lee Edwards shows how and why it happened—and the remarkable results.