In 1979, Peter Steinfels identified a new movement and predicted it would be the decade’s most enduring legacy to American politics. In a new Introduction he describes its evolution from a reaction to Sixties' social change into an entrenched political force promoting an assertive, even belligerent, foreign policy.
More than three decades ago, in The Neoconservatives, Peter Steinfels described a nascent movement, predicting that it would be the sixties’ “most enduring legacy to American politics.” Now, in a new foreword to that portrait, he traces neoconservatism’s fateful transformation. What was a movement of dissenting intellectuals creating a new, modern kind of conservatism became a phalanx of political insiders urging the nation to flex its muscles overseas.
The Neoconservatives describes the founders of the movement, disenchanted liberals recoiling from the turmoil of the sixties, a decline in authority, and a loss of tough-minded leadership at home and abroad. Written contemporaneously to the birth of a movement that would profoundly mark American history, The Neoconservatives holds clues, Steinfels argues, to how and why neoconservatism swerved from its original promise even as it successfully implanted itself as an influential and aggressive element in our politics. This is a landmark book, “an important contribution to understanding the influence of ideas on American politics” (Congress Monthly).
Peter Steinfels, former co-director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, is a university professor at Fordham. He was religion columnist for The New York Times and editor of Commonweal. Steinfels is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America (Simon & Schuster, 2003). He lives in New York City.