The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

by Yuval Levin


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An acclaimed portrait of Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the origins of modern conservatism and liberalism

In The Great Debate, Yuval Levin explores the roots of the left/right political divide in America by examining the views of the men who best represented each side at its origin: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. Striving to forge a new political path in the tumultuous age of the American and French revolutions, these two ideological titans sparred over moral and philosophical questions about the nature of political life and the best approach to social change: radical and swift, or gradual and incremental. The division they articulated continues to shape our political life today.

Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the basis of our political order and Washington's acrimonious rifts today, The Great Debate offers a profound examination of what conservatism, progressivism, and the debate between them truly amount to.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465062980
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/02/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 152,724
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Yuval Levin is vice president and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the founder and editor of National Affairs. A former White House advisor and congressional staffer, and a current contributing editor to National Review and the Weekly Standard, Levin lives in Maryland.

Table of Contents

One. Two Lives in the Arena
Two. Nature and History
Three. Justice and Order
Four. Choice and Obligation
Five. Reason and Prescription
Six. Revolution and Reform
Seven. Generations and the Living

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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
RS416 More than 1 year ago
This "debate" was between a reformer and a revolutionary. One believed a better government was formed by tearing down the old and depending on mankind's better nature to build a new one. The other believed on using the existing structure of a civil society to build a better government. This is not a long book but I found myself rereading several sections to better understand what each was saying.
AER More than 1 year ago
Mr Levin wrote an excellent analysis of the philosophy of Tom Paine and Edmund Burke. He made complex issues understandable and wove in well the times in which they lived and their backgrounds. I am not sure that he fully completes the circle in trying to link Burke and Paine to the right left split in contemporary America. The right no does not want to build on instittutions that have flourished but need tweaking. They are desirous of striking everything down. The left is unwilling to modify what works but desires to expand government power. Neither party would fully support a single payer health care system. The Republicans eschew immigration reform. Levin neglects foreign policy entirely which is central to politcits today. Eric Rosen