They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons

Jacob Heilbrunn, Author . Doubleday $26 (319p) ISBN 978-0-385-51181-0

News of neoconservatism’s demise has been greatly exaggerated, according to prolific journalist Heilbrunn, who profiles the largely (though by no means exclusively) Jewish makeup of the movement. Heilbrunn roots his interpretation of neoconservatism’s Jewish character in the American immigrant experience, the persistent memory of the Holocaust and Western appeasement of Hitler, among other phenomena. Charting the movement’s philosophy from its inception through the foreign policy vision crafted in the 1970s and the culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s, Heilbrunn employs a quasi-biblical spin echoed in Old Testament-inspired chapter headings. With the exception of his grasp of neoconservatism’s right-wing Christian contingent, Heilbrunn displays an innate understanding of the movement. He argues persuasively that though these self-styled prophets embrace an outsider stance, and though he believes they are happiest when viewed as the opposition, they will remain a formidable influence for the foreseeable future. Heilbrunn’s analysis lacks rigor concerning foreign policy assumptions and ideological and economic motives, thus unintentionally leaving his subjects more historically isolated than they really are. His proximity to the conservative movement brings benefits and limitations to this historical analysis. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 12/01/2007
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-385-51700-3
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4000-7620-8
Open Ebook - 191 pages - 978-0-307-47248-9
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