Book Review: Right Minds: A Sourcebook of American Conservative Thought by Gregory Wolfe
JULY 01, 1988 by WILLIAM H. PETERSON
Regnery Books, 1130 17th Street N_W., Washington, DC 20036 • 1987 • 245 pages * $16.95 hardback
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” said Shakespeare. But what thinking? and whose thinking? Ideas, Richard Weaver reminded us, have consequences. Right thinkers on thinking should be welcome, then, and Gregory Wolfe portrays them well.
To Wolfe, editor of The Intercollegiate Review and an English professor at Christendom College, right thinkers are conservative, free-market, limited-government types. Their answers on such matters as family, media, crime, welfare, education, race, philosophy, sexuality, communism, economics, foreign policy, and so on are based on traditional time-tested values and are referenced here, an incisive guide to the width and depth of the intellectual framework undergirding today’s conservative movement.
The Wolfe sourcebook is America-oriented even if some of its thinkers are European in or-igin—Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Ludwig von Mises, to name two examples.
The book has three parts—an annotated bibliography of conservative writings from John Adams to Walter Williams, brief biographies of American conservative minds including Norman Podhoretz and Leonard Read, and current sources of American conservative thought including the Liberty Fund and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. The inclusions—and there are hundreds—make sense.
Inevitably, i suppose, Mr. Wolfe can be charged with some errors of omission if not commission in a work of this sort. But given his limitations of space, he, too, had to choose, i.e., to reject. In the foreword to this reference work, William F. Buckley Jr. reminds us how Samuel Johnson coped with the demand for an explanation of why he omitted some word or other from his Dictionary: “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”
Even so, this compilation of right thinkers and thinking should prove to be a valuable roadmap to conservative intellectualism.