The Lion and the Fox

This second edition of Samuel Francis's monograph on the political thought of James Burnham (1904-1987) is a fascinating exposition of a remarkable body of work. Francis focuses on the thought and not the man, on the books and columns—especially those printed in National Review—produced during Burnham's most interesting period as a writer, which extended from his break with Marxism in 1940 to the end of his career in 1978. Francis's work on Burnham has three major levels of appeal, each in itself of compelling interest.

The first of these is the ostensible one. James Burnham's most important books—probably The Managerial Revolution and The Machiavellians—and his later articulation of the challenge of communism and its inherently tyrannical nature, as well as various of the positions he advocated in the 1940's and 50's and those he took in National Review in the last 23 years of his career, challenged most members of the conservative movement in those decades, and still do today. Burnham did not write in the traditional language of Anglo-American political theory and reference. He was not a Burkean like Russell Kirk, nor a Straussian, nor a Catholic (until his conversion late in life), nor an exhausted liberal, nor a libertarian, nor a capitalist, nor a neoconservative. In fact, as an academic of aesthetic and philosophical sophistication (and a former...

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