A new book, Forgotten Conservatives in American History, is dedicated to the task of ensuring such conservatives are forgotten no longer. Its authors — noted historian Clyde N. Wilson and one of his former students, Brion McClanahan — have masterfully gathered brief accounts of nearly two dozen men who made their own significant contributions to the American Republic.
The book fills an interesting niche within the realm of the history of American Conservatism. One might describe it as a cross between an appendix to Russell Kirk’s classic The Conservative Mind and Chilton Williamson’s The Conservative Bookshelf. The authors have highlighted many of the more significant writings of the "forgotten conservatives" whom they have elected to profile; on several occasions, this reviewer found their recommendations quite helpful. Indeed, a careful study of Forgotten Conservatives could furnish a reader with ample opportunities for further study of its subjects for years to come. As with Williamson’s book, an attentive reading of this book leaves one buried under a heap of titles that one may never have encountered before, but without which one is no longer content to remain.
The connection between this book and The Conservative Mind is overt; as the authors explain in their introduction, “We have chosen to be guided by Russell Kirk’s classic The Conservative Mind in identifying who is a conservative.” Since the entire purpose of the book is to give attention to those individuals who have been neglected — even forgotten — by modern conservatives, it is necessary that the book has much the feel of a title to be read after a thorough study of Kirk’s classic work.
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Forgotten Conservatives in American History, by Brion McClanahan and Clyde N. Wilson, Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Co., 2012, 199 pages, hardcover.