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

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Basic Books, Dec 3, 2013 - History - 304 pages
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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.

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User Review  - steve02476 - LibraryThing

Great short book contrasting/comparing Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine as prototypes of AngloAmerican right and left wings. The author is a conservative but his treatment seems entirely fair and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBGUSA - LibraryThing

Intriguing book about the modern origins of the debate between periodically "wiping the slate clean" as advocated by Thomas Paine and gradual, incremental reforms, as advocated by Edmund Burke ... Read full review


ONE Two Lives in the Arena
TWO Nature and History
THREE Justice and Order
FOUR Choice and Obligation
SEVEN Generations and the Living

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About the author (2013)

Yuval Levin is director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs. A former member of the White House domestic policy staff under George W. Bush, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. His previous books include The Fractured Republic and The Great Debate. He lives in Maryland.