Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion

Gertrude Himmelfarb, "Irving Kristol's Neoconservative Persuasion," Commentary, February 2011.


Much has been made of the consistency of tone in his writings—bold and speculative but never dogmatic or academic, always personal, witty, ironic. That tone is not only a matter of style; it suggests a distinctive intellectual sensibility—skeptical, commonsensible, eclectic, and at the same time strong-minded and hardheaded. It is a double-edged scalpel that he wielded against the “terrible simplifiers” of his generation, the utopians of the left and the dogmatists of the right, both of whom failed to appreciate the complicated realities of human nature and social action—realities, he insisted, that had to be confronted honestly and boldly.

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