The Gloomsayer: Neo-Conservatism the Autobiography of an Idea by Irving Kristol

The Gloomsayer: Neo-Conservatism the Autobiography of an Idea by Irving Kristol

This is an oddly depressing book. The oddity has little to do with its allegiances, more to do with its tone, its view of what is worth writing and thinking about, and its author’s conception of the human condition. It is also stunningly boring. Part of the problem, though the smaller part, is that Kristol is a dreadful writer. Kristol says of himself that he abandoned his youthful hopes for a career as a novelist after he wrote a tome in “a style that was a bastard mixture of Saul Bellow and Jean Giraudoux, whose novels I was then enchanted by,” and saw soon enough that its destination was the incinerator rather than the best-seller list. He also gave up the idea of writing a book-length “examination of the evolution of American democracy, a kind of sequel to Tocqueville and Henry Adams,” when he discovered he had neither the patience nor the intellectual rigor for the task.

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