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Let Burke Be Burke
Edmund Burke: The First Conservative, by Jesse Norman (Basic, 336 pp., $27.99) and Edmund Burke in America: The Contested Career of the Father of Modern Conservatism, by Drew Maciag (Cornell, 304 pp., $29.95)


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General readers in search of a reliable and readable single-volume biography of Edmund Burke have had few options in recent decades. Although some significant new material (including especially Burke’s complete personal correspondence) has become available since the middle of the 20th century, no authoritative biography has made his story widely accessible. This is odd, given Burke’s importance to Anglo-American political thought, and especially to English and American conservatives who tend to be fertile in producing books about their heroes.

But precisely Burke’s importance and relevance may have stood in the way of a definitive short biography. Writers telling his story have tended to use it to make points of their own — from Russell Kirk’s effort to make Burke the Christian moralist he needed right through Conor Cruise O’Brien’s mission to prove that Burke, like all good things, was first and foremost Irish. This has yielded some great books, including Kirk’s and O’Brien’s, but no great, straightforward overview of Burke’s life and work. So while some superb academic biographies have appeared, most notably F. P. Lock’s two-volume masterpiece (in 1999 and 2006), there has been nothing of the sort for the non-specialist reader.


Contents
July 15, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 13

Articles
Features
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Mackubin Thomas Owens reviews Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen C. Guelzo.
  • Yuval Levin reviews Edmund Burke: The First Conservative, by Jesse Norman and Edmund Burke in America: The Contested Career of the Father of Modern Conservatism, by Drew Maciag.
  • Arthur L. Herman reviews Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World, by James Lacey and Williamson Murray.
  • W. Bradford Wilcox reviews How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization, by Mary Eberstadt.
  • Carrie Lukas reviews Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream—and Why It Matters, by Helen Smith.
  • Richard Brookhiser discusses a life of changing technology.
Sections
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .