The Politics of Prudence: A Review


Valley Gardens, I., Herrogate, England
[Detail of image from Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division: LC-DIG-ppmsc-08423]

I have just finished Russell Kirk’s “The Politics of Prudence,” and found it to be in keeping with much of what I study and admire in Western culture. His book comprehensively defines modern American conservatism provides a history of conservative thought, and describes historic and contemporary challenges to conservative preservation of a Christian society. Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

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2 thoughts on “The Politics of Prudence: A Review

  1. Wes, can you explain how/why Kirk viewed Theodore Roosevelt as a hero? TR has been what you might call a “quasi-hero” to me because of his naturalist tendencies (which dovetail with my love of works by the likes of Thoreau, Leopold, etc), but in the political realms TR is pretty widely recognized as one of the first progressives. I have always had trouble getting past that when I consider him. What did Kirk see in him that was so appealing? Did he view him as a “conservative'”?

    GREAT review overall, by the way.

  2. Jarrett,

    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed my review. Your term “quasi-hero” was an excellent term. I think Kirk would have probably agreed. Kirk obviously wouldn’t defend Roosevelt’s progressivism, but rather his Christian heroism. Here’s what Kirk writes:

    “A Fighting, writing President is my seventh exemplary conservative: Theodore Roosevelt. Once upon a time, when my grandfather took his small grandson to the movies, there happened to appear on the screen, briefly, the face of Roosevelt. My grandfather applauded loudly but solitarily, to my embarrassment. Hod I then read Hero Tales from American history, written by Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, I too would have applauded. My grandfather gave me a copy of that book not long later, and I read it most eagerly. How I was stirred, at the age of twelve, by Roosevelt’s sketches and vignettes of George Rogers Clark, King’s Mountain, the storming of Stony Point, the battle of New Orleans, the death of Stonewall Jackson, the charge at Gettysburg, Farragut at Mobile Bay the Alamo? What later I came to know Roosevelt’s houses at Oyster Bay – where he ran the United States, summers, fram a loft-office above a grug store at the principal corners of the village – and in Manhattan, It was as if I were visiting one of my teachers. Much else that Roosevelt wrote has not diminished in vigor. Much that Roosevelt did requires doing all over again…” (page 72).

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