[This review was published in the November/December 1996 issue of Conservative Review, p. 33.] 

 

Book Review 

 

The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility and Traditional Values

Compiled by Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent

Holbrook, MA: Adams Publishing, 1995

Reviewed by Dwight D. Murphey 

 

            It is about time there was a volume celebrating conservative thought and the thinkers who have been its champions.  In the academic community and liberal media, going back through most of this century, there has been scant recognition that there even is a conservative intellectual position, or that its apostles have any respectability.  We know, of course, that this is a sectarian narrowness—dare we say, a “bigotry”—on the part of the Left, and not to be taken seriously.  Nevertheless, it is a fine thing to have a book appear that not only acknowledges conservative thought for what it is, but relishes it so much that it showcases passages from a number of authors to illustrate conservatism’s rich variety.

            This is an excellent book for the coffee table.  It looks good, but more than that, friends who pick it up and thumb through it will learn from it.  The passages from each of 255 authors are short and readable, edifying in their own right; but the prime benefit will be from the friends’ seeing that there are so many contemporary conservative authors (along with several from the past, going back to Aristotle, who lend valuable historic context), many of whom the average American may not have heard of.

            The quotations start with Lord Acton and pass through the likes of Bill Allen (if you haven’t heard of his delightful broadcasts as “The Midnight Economist,” it shows how much you will benefit from the resources this book opens up), Mona Charen, Milton Friedman, Russell Kirk, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, Joseph Sobran, Ernest van den Haag and many others to Zig Ziglar (whose parents seem to have been committed to his being the anchor man in a list of any kind).  This reviewer takes particular delight in observing that quotable-author number 155 is one Dwight D. Murphey, who demurs only slightly from the compilers’ judgment in including him among Aristotle, Burke, Carlyle, Macaulay and Plato.  It’s long deserved!

            Appropriately, the book is dedicated to Rush Limbaugh, who “pointed out the need for a book of quotations that includes great conservative thinkers.”  William E. Simon and William F. Buckley, Jr., introduce the book with short commentaries.  The compilers, Evans and Berent, explain the intellectual traditions from which they draw the quotations, saying that “a key theme throughout the book is that liberty (including economic freedom) and personal responsibility are indivisible….”   It is this theme that ties together Burkean and Jeffersonian traditions from which the authors come.