The Most Patriotic Conservative

I first encountered the name Samuel T. Francis in 1984, when Joe Sobran thrust a nondescript-looking little book, published in typically amateurish format by the University Press of America, into my hands and asked my permission to review it.  (I was, in those days, the literary editor for National Review.)  Its title was Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham.  In 1984, Burnham, though still identified on NR’s masthead as senior editor, had been mentally incapacitated for seven years by stroke.  Jim Burnham, of course, had served as National Review’s chief international-affairs analyst and foreign-policy theorist since the magazine’s launch in 1955.  Like all of Jim’s colleagues at NR, I was in awe of Burnham and, thus, predisposed toward anyone who had taken the time and the effort to write a book about the fading lion in Kent, Connecticut, whose name even then was in process of being forgotten (though his ideas were being rediscovered by President Reagan’s neoconservative appointees in Washington, mostly for the purpose of mangling or misapplying them).  I never suspected, as I handed Power and History back to Joe, or later, when I read the review of it he had written, that the author would become as great a theoretical student of American politics as James Burnham was of the international political arena—perhaps even greater.

I...

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