Another prize! And other news of the blog and the book

Clio Awards 2011 - writerThe blog has won another award!  Cliopatra, the history blog at the History News Network, has awarded me its “Best Writer” award.  Here’s what the judges said:

Corey Robin’s new blog,, has rapidly become a *tour de force*. Robin joins battle with contemporary issues by way of a deep engagement with the history of political thought. Although he is a passionate partisan of the left, he takes conservative thinkers seriously. Several of them have returned the favor, including Andrew Sullivan, who regularly uses Robin’s provocative posts as a launching pad for his own blogging, and Bruce Bartlett, who recently debated Robin at All that, and Robin’s words sparkle with a crafty combination of intelligence and wit. He is the quintessential public intellectual for the digital age.

Having majored in history as an undergraduate—my teachers included John Murrin, Lawrence Stone, Arno Mayer, Robert Darnton, James McPherson, and Reid Mitchell—and having always envied the ironic humanism of the historian’s craft (and wished we had more of it in political science, along with a greater sensitivity to time and historical context), I’m especially grateful to have won this recognition from the top blog in the historical profession.

This is the second prize this blog has won; the first was the 3 Quarks Daily 3rd prize (“Charm Quark”) for “best writing in politics and social science.”

More blog stuff

That Ron Paul post I wrote is getting a lot of attention and generating lots of discussion. Not only on the comments thread, which you should definitely check out, but on a Daily Kos post by David Mizner, the progressive writer and activist; in this Glenn Greenwald post; this Digby post; this rethink from Elias Isquith; and this acidulous—I’ve always wanted to use that word!—squib from Freddie DeBoer, whose blog you should also check out.  It’s also just been reposted at Al Jazeera English, where I suspect it will generate even more discussion.  And on Twitter, well, all hell has broken loose.  This is just one of the many tweets I received in response to the post: “your article is wrong on all accounts your a shill just regurgitating what the lame stream media keep feeding the Americ. public”.  There you go.


In addition to that appearance on “Up With Chris Hayes“—someone just alerted me to the eye roll, caught on tape at 16:20, that I did in response to the foolish claim of one of the conservative guests that Prussian aristocrats opposed Hitler—there’s a really good, if I do say so myself, two-part interview that Philip Pilkington did with me over at  Part I is here, Part II is here. Thanks to Phil’s excellent questions, I manage to talk about some thing that aren’t in the book or that I haven’t discussed much in public: how I came to write the book, Burke’s thoughts on theater and costumes, the future of the GOP, and more.


Back in November, there was a mixed but generally positive review of the book in Times Higher Education. The reviewer—Joanna Bourke, a cultural historian (whose book on fear, in fact, I negatively reviewed in the New Statesman a long time ago)—said, “This little book will continue to spark controversy, but that is not the reason to read it: it is a witty, erudite and opinionated account of one of the most significant movements of our times.”

John Quiggin, an Australian economist who actually knows something about political theory, did a nice post on the book, on his blog and at Crooked Timber. Lots of comments on both.

There’s also Mark Lilla’s review in the New York Review of Books. As I said in a previous post, I’ll be responding in due course, so I won’t say anything here. But in the meantime, as one young intellectual historian put it on a blog, “Bashing Lilla’s review of Robin’s book seems to be the newest internet meme.” He’s not kidding. Political theorist Alex Gourevitch weighed in at Jacobin; Henry Farrell, a political scientist with a strong interest in theory, at Crooked Timber; and intellectual historian Andrew Hartman at U.S. Intellectual History. There’s also been some further commentary on—or inspired—by the review, positive and negative, from Ben Alpers, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Larison, Matt Yglesias, 3 Quarks Daily, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose interesting post prompted this response from me.  According to intellectual historian Tim Lacy, “I’m wondering if Robin’s book won’t also become something of an instant classic. I say this because you don’t attract high-profile ire from the likes of Mark Lilla unless you hit a nerve.” Here’s hoping.

And last, some further mentions of the book, in passing, from Andrew Sullivan, and, more substantively, from Paul Rosenberg.


  1. lawlines January 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm | #

    what do you think of e m cioran?

  2. lawlines January 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm | #

    if you haven’t read him, you need to

  3. Fake Herzog January 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm | #

    First of all, I’m just an anonymous blogger so I’m sure the following won’t really matter to you, but I have to admit I’m fascinated by the thesis of your book and find many of your blog posts interesting while totally and completely disagreeing with most of what you have to say.

    However, you (and the judges at Clio) really, really need to stop calling Sully and Bartlett “conservative thinkers”. Both have idiosyncratic political ideas and at the end of the day belong with liberals. Larison is a different case altogether, really a one note song who thinks the only thing interesting worth thinking about is how to stop fighting wars. Back in the early days of his blogging career he used to write about Orthodoxy (the religion) a lot more — I miss those days. I’m afraid most of the writers at American Conservative are also idiosyncratic and generally don’t have very conservative ideas (with the exception of Buchanan when he stops talking about tariffs). I mean, when is the last time that magazine wrote about abortion or same sex “marriage” or getting rid of “Obamacare” or free-market solutions to [fill in the blank]. Instead we get a Ron Unz cover story about how Hispanic immigration isn’t so bad. Turn in your conservative card at the door Ron, you need to sit down and read Steve Sailer’s blog archives for the next two weeks, along with all of Heather MacDonald’s articles in City Journal about Hispanic dysfunction in this country and then after filling out a short re-education questionnaire, I’ll give you your card back.

    O.K., sorry for that rant. I’ll be sure to pop up in the comments again soon with specific objections to your posts and/or the book once I get it.

  4. Fake Herzog January 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm | #

    P.S. Didn’t at least some Prussian aristocrats oppose Hitler? Famously people like Claus von Stauffenberg? Or is it more accurate to just say some of the German aristocrats opposed Hitler, since Claus appears to be Bavarian?

  5. Hard to fathom it.. January 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm | #

    “Ron Paul has two problems: One his, the other ours”

    After having read your article it would seem clear that as things stand now, you would be voting for Obama (again) due to the unacceptable. To that, All i have to say is

    – Signed the NDAA – an indefinite detention bill – into law
    – Waged war on Libya without congressional approval
    – Started a covert, drone war in Yemen
    – Escalated the proxy war in Somalia
    – Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan
    – Will maintain a presence in Iraq even after “ending” war
    – Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan
    – Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries
    – Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia
    – Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia
    – Touted nuclear power, even after the disaster in Japan
    – Opened up deepwater oil drilling, even after BP disaster
    – Did a TV commercial promoting “clean coal”
    – Defended body scans and pat-downs at airports
    – Signed the Patriot Act extension into law
    – Continued Bush’s rendition program

    and also that if you can’t see how your stated reasons for not supporting Ron Paul are so minuscule in comparison (you think he’s a racist, pro lifer (but for states to decide themselves, clearly and lew rockwell fan) and really, REALLY dumb reasons not to vote for him….yeah….speechless

  6. Fake Herzog January 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm | #

    Hard to fathom it,

    Just as a quick note, to prove my neocon credentials, if there is one thing Obama has generally gotten right from my perspective, it’s been foreign policy, and I give him a lot of credit for basically ignoring all his campaign promises — which should indeed scare Professor Robin 😉

    However, concerning Iraq, our presence there is limited to a big embassy — not what most of us who supported the war and surge had wanted.

  7. batocchio January 6, 2012 at 2:18 am | #

    Congratulations! I thought the Crooked Timber posts and threads were very good, as were the Gourevitch and Hartman pieces. I’m glad Balloon Juice chose your book for discussion (although due to time zones and work I’ll probably have to just read the comments afterward). Best of luck for a great 2012.

  8. Cay Borduin January 6, 2012 at 10:10 am | #

    Congrats on the prize – I have read the book and am passing my loaner Kindle on to others to read. (My husband cannot resist the latest gadget, hence extra Kindles.)

    I am seeing examples of your thesis everywhere – conservatives finding value in struggling to follow (impossible) codes and seeing life without that struggle as dull and worthless. Mike Bickle (one of those Seven Mountains Christians) in this video demonstrates this powerfully through his language and body language. He basically defines sin as not living in that struggle.

  9. David January 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | #

    Corey – congratulations, I had been occasionally running into your work, but I’m now following you via Google reader. Quick question – when will your book be out on paperback? I greatly dislike hardbacks – they impede reading on the subway, but I don’t have a kindle. I’d like to read it once if and when it comes out. Thanks,

  10. tulisa July 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm | #

    i seen his book on ebay the other day the uk ebay so people over here must enjoy it too

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