The Great Debate

The Great Debate

Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

Book - 2014
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"In The Great Debate Yuval Levin explores the origins of the familiar left/right divide in American politics by examining the views of the men who best represent each side of that debate: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. In a groundbreaking exploration of the origins of our political order, Levin shows that our political divide did not originate (as many historians argue) in the French Revolution, but rather in the Anglo-American debate about that revolution. Burke and Paine were both utterly fascinating figures--active in politics, versed in philosophy, and two of the best, most effective and powerful political writers and polemicists in the history of the English speaking world. Levin sets the work of these two men against the dramatic history of their era and shows how they mixed theory and practice to advance their very different notions of liberty, equality, nature, history, reason, revolution, and reform. Paine believed in radical change and saw the American and French Revolutions as catalysts for creating a new society; Burke believed in a significantly more gradual approach with each generation acting merely as part of a long chain of history. These differing approaches to revolution and reform created a division that continues to shape our current political discourse--including issues ranging from gun control and abortion to welfare and economic reform"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, [2014]
ISBN: 9780465050970
Branch Call Number: 320.50973 L5785G 2014
Characteristics: xix, 275 pages ; 25 cm


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May 25, 2017

I read a reference to this one in another book on current political thought and hoped to learn more about the fine points of Burke that conservatives find so compelling these days. Unfortunately, the interesting points were submerged in too much comparison of attitudes and lifestyles. This book should've been a monograph, way shorter and concentrated. It's worthwhile only if you have the time to wade through it.


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