More News of the Book

Our last update of news about the book was October 26. Seemed like it was time for another one. As they say on Glee, here’s what you missed.


Alan Wolfe had this to say in The New Republic:

I confess to being one of those who likes to divide conservatives into their parts as opposed to treating them as a whole. Robin makes a vigorous case that I am wrong, and I am tempted by his analysis….Robin is an engaging writer, and just the kind of broad-ranging public intellectual all too often missing in academic political science.

Now I too can invoke that hoary cliche “even The New Republic,” albeit to different purposes.

John Kampfner was less enthusiastic in The Guardian/Observer. Connor Kilpatrick was more enthusiastic—very enthusiastic, in fact—in The Exiled (also check out the many comments his review sparked). The Brooklyn Rail was mixed. And National Review contributing editor John Derbyshire, as you all know, said that if he and I were stranded on a desert island, he’d kill himself. All that and more at The American Conservative.


It seems as if I’ve spent the last month of my life giving interviews or engaging in on-line dialogues about the book.  It’s been exhilarating—and exhausting. If I haven’t replied to an email or to a comment on the blog, that’s why. I can barely type another word! But I’ll try to get back to you. In the meantime…

I had a lovely and intelligent conversation with Guy Rathbun, who does interviews out of California that get syndicated on NPR.  Really interesting conversation, excellent questions.

Amanda Marcotte, the take-no-shit feminist blogger, and I talked conservatism and reproductive rights the day before Mississippians voted down the personhood amendment. It was great for me to get to talk through a set of issues that come up in my book but that don’t get a lot of traction in the reviews and commentary. My wife was more taken with Amanda’s post-punk soundtrack.

Jeff Schechtman of KVON in Northern California interviewed me.

Tom Mills, of the New Left Project in Britain, and I had a lengthy phone interview which got written up and posted in two parts.

I think I posted this one earlier, but Daniel Larison, an extraordinarily thoughtful conservative, and I had a several-weeks-long email exchange, which got reprinted at The New Inquiry. It prompted much intelligent comment, a lot from the right, and this from a U.S. News and World Report blog.

And last but not least, here’s a link where you can watch the entire conversation between me and conservative journalist S.E. Cupp that was aired on Book-TV/C-SPAN2 this past weekend. And if you want to catch it on TV one last time, it will be rebroadcast on Sunday, November 20, at 4 pm, EST.


In the last few weeks, Al Jazeera English has been publishing some of my blog posts. It’s been thrilling to see these posts and arguments disseminated to a much broader audience.  Two have already been published; three more are to come. Even if you read them already, you should check them out over there just for the commentary they prompt.

Update (7 pm)

I forgot to mention there was an excellent letter from Penny Lewis in the New York Times Book Review, responding to the Times review.


  1. Brahmsky November 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | #

    Al Jazeera?! Way to go!! What’s next, Pravda?

  2. Brahmsky November 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm | #

    I’m surprised your wife let you sit that close to S. E. Cupp!!

  3. doloyeung November 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | #

    Mr. Robin, I first learned of your book a few weeks ago and wrote it off on its title alone. Political language, I thought, is obviously determined more by things such as positive connotation, stigmatic power and so on than it is intellectual precision, and that conveying actual meaning is one of the least important facets of a term if it to find currency in politics. I thought that reconciling the vast jumble of ideologies classified as right-wing represented too much to explain, and that any theory which presumed to do so would necessarily explain too much.

    Over the last few weeks through listening to interviews and reading you elaborating on your book in various forums I have tried to work out whether my judgement was too swift and too harsh. I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t.

    For an indication of why i’ve come to that conclusion id ask you to consider your discussion with Amanda Marcotte. This was a discussion on reproductive rights and you might have thought that tacking the topic might prove a challenge to the idea that conservatism, in all its variants(even non-conservative ones, apparently), is about preserving power and privilege. After all, the child in utero represents humanity in its most vulnerable and powerless form. That is what you might have thought anyway. In the event it was easy to meet this challenge as the great thing with your most explainy of explanations is that it not only explains facts but produces them. Relying on your thesis you could see that the stated conservative position is but a fig leaf covering their true motives, true motives that once determined by your thesis happen to be, surprise surprise, absolutely consistent with your thesis thus demonstrating its immense explanatory power!

    It’s this very tactic, to test the theory against itself and ask people to marvel at the agreement found, which leaves me confident in my initial assessment. I’ve seen you use it over and over, and although I haven’t read the book, ive got to feel that if you had a better argument to make in its favour you would have made it by now.

    So, that was whatever that was. Not entirely good form to condemn a book without reading it I know, but, on the other hand, you condemned a whole lot of minds without reading them either.

    • Corey Robin November 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm | #

      Well, I can only ask you to read the book and let me know what you think then. The argument in the book is more complicated than you represent it here; I certainly can’t guarantee that you’ll find it any less disagreeable, but, well, there you have it.

  4. Ranjit Suresh November 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | #

    That link to the Guy Rathbun interview seems to be broken.

    This link works:

    • Ranjit Suresh November 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm | #

      Nevermind, I suppose we can’t post links in the comments! Anyway, it’s on the kcbx station website’s radio archives.

      • Corey Robin November 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm | #

        When I clicked on it, it worked. You have to go down to the date of the program and click on the link that says KCBX_142157113.mp3 (MP3 Format Sound, 14.0 MB)

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