To save precious space in America’s most important journal, I will refer to the subjects of this book as neocons. To make fine distinctions between academic and activist Straussians, as the author sometimes does, is akin to saying Marx is not to blame for his disciples.
Having long admired Prof. Anne Norton for her brilliant book on antebellum social thought, Alternative Americas, I was eager to see what an erudite, fair-minded liberal had to say about the monsters who now dispose of our blood and treasure. I am not entirely disappointed, nor entirely satisfied.
Norton is well situated to assess her subject, being a political scientist (University of Pennsylvania) who, while no Straussian herself, is nevertheless familiar with the doctrine of Straussians and personally acquainted with many of them from her time at the University of Chicago.
The neocons have had a lot of exposure—that is, they have been the object of numerous exposés—lately. (Anyone who thinks that exposure will lessen their power underestimates both their adaptability and the intellectual and moral shallowness of the American ruling class.) What this study adds to the picture are the (obvious now that it is pinned down) kinship of neocon “thought” to European fascism; an appreciative description of real American conservatism and how neoconism fails to resemble it in any respect;...