My Irving Kristol and Ours by Mary Eberstadt

Mary Eberstadt, "My Irving Kristol and Ours," The Weekly Standard, October 5, 2009.


“More than anyone alive, perhaps, Irving Kristol can take the credit for reversing the direction of American political culture.” These words taken from the Nation a few years back signal the Irving Kristol the world knows best: the godfather of neoconservatism. As that other titan of neoconservative thought, Norman Podhoretz, has suggested, “grandfather” may be the better label, given the generations of writers influenced by that family of ideas. For years now, at least since Peter Steinfels’s 1979 book The Neoconservatives, articles and books and documentaries–including several essays by Irving himself–have wrestled with the question of his singular and manifold influence, in the process turning Kristol-gazing into a minor industry of its own.* Cold Warrior, ex-Trotskyist, coeditor with Stephen Spender of Encounter, coeditor with Nathan Glazer and Daniel Bell of the Public Interest, founder with Owen Harries of the National Interest, public intellectual for nearly seven decades, contributor during those same years to the most influential journals and magazines of the day, from Commentary and the New Leader half a century ago to the New York Times Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, member of countless boards and all-around intellectual impresario: These are just some of the faces of Irving with which critics and fans alike must reckon.

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