Cultural Revolutions

Henry Regnery, R.I.P.

He died on June 18, his devoted wife of six decades, Eleanor, at his side.

Soft-spoken, humble, ever polite and generous, Henry was also a man of indomitable courage. In an era of accelerating centralization in the book trade, he launched the Henry Regnery Company in 1947 as an independent publishing house. From the beginning, it featured titles that challenged accepted opinion, be it the foreign policy elite's plan to dismember and destroy postwar Germany, or that same elite's passion for "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

Henry's father, born on a Wisconsin farm of German Catholic forebears, was a successful textile manufacturer, who became a leader of the America First movement. Young Henry's first job, after graduate training in economics at Harvard, was as an administrator for the American Friends Service Committee's "Penn Craft" agricultural resettlement community, in Pennsylvania. In these ways, Henry symbolized the oft-forgotten continuity of the Agrarian cause and the anti-interventionist Old Right of the 1930's with the conservatism that would take form (largely through his publishing efforts) in the 1950's.

Central to Henry's life was his deep attachment to northeast Illinois. Born and raised in the village of Hinsdale, his natal place served throughout his life as the idealized American small town. "There were woods, open fields, and farms just outside the...

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