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Publisher's Summary

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.

An essential book 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.

©2013 Yuval Levin (P)2021 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"In this lively and probing book, Levin, one of the most influential conservative writers in the United States, looks at the ideas of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine, towering figures in the late-eighteenth-century transatlantic Enlightenment...The Great Debate won't settle any of the political disputes roiling U.S. politics today, but those who read it carefully will find it easier to understand their opponents--and perhaps even to find some common ground." (Foreign Affairs)

"Yuval Levin, whose sharp thinking was honed at the University of Chicago s Committee on Social Thought...is one of conservatism s most sophisticated and measured explicators." (George F. Will, Washington Post

"[A] wonderful book." (Los Angeles Times

"In a Burkean manner, Mr. Levin enriches through wisdom rather than prescription. He gives us something more than a manual of past lessons--namely, the historical framework to achieve greater understanding." (Wall Street Journal)

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