Know Your Enemy: “Write Like a Man,” with Ronnie Grinberg

Know Your Enemy: “Write Like a Man,” with Ronnie Grinberg

Matt and Sam are joined by historian Ronnie Grinberg to discuss her book Write Like a Man: Jewish Masculinity and the New York Intellectuals.

From the cover of Write Like a Man (Princeton University Press)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Historian Ronnie Grinberg’s new book Write Like a Man: Jewish Masculinity and the New York Intellectuals couldn’t be better Know Your Enemy fodder. (Main characters include Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz, Diana and Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, and Mary McCarthy.) These writers, Grinberg shows, built and sustained a novel, secular, Jewish, and masculine concept of the intellectual life, an ideology that would profoundly affect the development of Cold War liberalism, neoconservatism, Zionism, and right-wing reaction against feminism, gay rights, and black power.

As Matt and Sam discover in this conversation, it’s impossible to make sense of the creative and scholarly contributions of the New York Intellectuals — good and bad—without gender as a lens. Moreover, Grinberg shows how scholars can easily misapprehend the deeper motivations for neoconservative reaction (for figures like as Podhoretz and Decter) if they are not attentive to the centrality of gender, sexuality, and patriarchy in these thinkers’ work.


Further Reading:

Ronnie Grinberg, Write Like a Man: Jewish Masculinity and the New York Intellectuals (2024)

Sam Adler-Bell, The New York Intellectuals Were a Boys’ Club, Chronicle of Higher Education (2024)

Matthew Sitman, Midge Decter to Howard Meyer, April 15, 1987, Friends and Enemies (2024)

B.D. McClay, Of Course They Hated Her: The Uncomfortable Honesty of Mary McCarthy, Commonweal (2017)

William Barrett, The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals (1982)

Mary McCarthy, The Group (1963)

Tess Slesinger, The Unpossessed (1934)

Norman Podhoretz, Breaking Ranks: A Political Memoir (1979)

Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers (1976)


Further Viewing:

D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Town Bloody Hall (1979)


Further Listening:

Know Your Enemy, Midge Decter, Anti-Feminist Cold Warrior, with Moira Donegan and Adrian Daub (2023)

Know Your Enemy, What Happened to Norman, with David Klion (2020)

…and don’t forget to subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon for access to all of our bonus episodes!

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