A Matter of Opinion by Victor S. Navasky (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 464 pages, $27.00)
When I was in college and a member of my university's Liberal Party, a common question posed to candidates for party ofﬁce was a dichotomy: “New Republic or Nation?” (The American Prospect did not yet exist.) Most people didn't hesitate. They picked The New Republic.
Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It by Alan Wolfe (Princeton University Press, 224 pages, $22.95)
In recent years, the sociologist Alan Wolfe has emerged as one of America's most astute thinkers about religion, politics, and society. Unlike so many generalists who aspire to the label “public intellectual,” Wolfe's ideas have roots in his own continuing academic research; where clever controversialists like David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens wear poorly, as their endless tossing off of opinions lays bare a core shallowness, Wolfe draws from a deeper well, and his books and essays are the richer for it.
Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (Yale University Press,
Senator Barry Goldwater strode to the convention
podium. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" he
declared, sending the assembled delegates into a frenzy. The scene was not San
Francisco, 1964. This was Dallas, 1984. "Members of the convention, we have
a leader, a real leader, a great commander-in-chief," Goldwater continued. "President
Ronald Reagan. And in your hearts you know he's right."