Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century

Exit Right The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century A provocative intimate look at the evolution of America s political soul through the lives of six political figures from Whittaker Chambers to Christopher Hitchens who abandoned the left and joined t

  • Title: Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century
  • Author: Daniel Oppenheimer
  • ISBN: 9781416589709
  • Page: 426
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A provocative, intimate look at the evolution of America s political soul through the lives of six political figures from Whittaker Chambers to Christopher Hitchens who abandoned the left and joined the right In Exit Right, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics inA provocative, intimate look at the evolution of America s political soul through the lives of six political figures from Whittaker Chambers to Christopher Hitchens who abandoned the left and joined the right In Exit Right, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics in the twentieth century By going deep into the minds of six apostates Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, and Christopher Hitchens Oppenheimer offers an unusually intimate history of the American left, and the right s reaction Oppenheimer is a brilliant new voice in political history who has woven together the past century s most important movements into a single book that reveals the roots of American politics Through the eyes of his six subjects, we see America grow, stumble, and forge ahead from World War I up through the Great Depression and World War II, from the Red Scare up through the Civil Rights Movement, and from the birth of neoconservatism up through 9 11 and the dawn of the Iraq War At its core, Exit Right is a book that asks profound questions about why and how we come to believe politically at all on the left or the right Each of these six lives challenges us to ask where our own beliefs come from, and what it might take to change them At a time of sky high partisanship, Oppenheimer breaks down the boundaries that divide us and investigates the deeper origins of our politics This is a book that will resonate with readers on the left and the right as well as those stuck somewhere in the middle.

    One thought on “Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century”

    1. A great election year book. An exploration of the journey of personal politics with a pleasantly academic and occasionally poetic voice. Oppenheimer does well in remaining objective and succeeds rather well in the dissection of a handful of lives and the winding paths that led to their political allegiances (with the exception of Hitchens who he seems to have an almost sentimental ax to grind, but here I could be overreaching).However, there is a necessity for knowing the characters in this book [...]

    2. I picked up this book largely due to the chapter on Christopher Hitchens, who has long been a writer I've admired (his support for the Iraq War notwithstanding). I was very interested in seeing a neutral perspective on Hitchens, since I already have read at length what Hitchens himself said about that decision.Before we get to the Hitch, however, we move through history as we explore the political careers of several other Leftists who ultimately, well, left. On the first few chapters, I am more [...]

    3. I struggled between a 3 and a 4 on this rating. The book presents fascinating history of 6 figures (I almost wrote intellectuals, though no one would _ever_ label Ronald Reagan that way) who had varying degrees of commitment to the left and who eventually migrated to more conservative perspectives. Oppenheimer does a good job detailing the tension (largely intellectual and emotional, though sometimes economic) that led each of these individuals to convert.The book covers individuals active betwe [...]

    4. Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary who himself had flirted with radicalism in the early 1960s, once explained that communism’s danger—and its appeal to intellectuals—lay in the fact that the creed insisted that it was the ultimate fulfillment of the democratic ethos. To this day, liberals and their other non-revolutionary siblings on the left might disagree with communists over the extent to which the state should engineer “fairness,” yet they still share with them a vis [...]

    5. Mostly psychobabble BS with no discussion of the merits of left and right ideologies. Also each chapter ends right after the switch from right to left and provides no information on what each character did after changing allegiances. The chapter on James Burnham is particularly boring.

    6. Props to Oppenheimer for writing an exquisitely nuanced, thoroughly absorbing book about six men whose politics I couldn't possibly disagree with more. I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would.

    7. It would probably help to know that I'm 69 years old. That is, old enough to be familiar with the last four of the six men profiled, and in fact one of whom gets my occasional contributions. I'm also one who used to be idealistic -- though isn't that to be expected of the young -- as these six were, and now consider myself conservative/libertarian. I've always been a Zionist.Studying Marx in college back in the '60s, I kept thinking this sounds good on paper but can't possibly work in the real w [...]

    8. The subject of sincere political evolution is an interesting one, especially in a time when any sort of doubt is considered either apostasy or weakness. Oppenheimer examines six prominent leftists who shifted, either gradually or drastically, toward the right, and he chose his subjects well -- each made the move for different reasons. For James Burnham, the shift was an almost entirely intellectual one, while for Whittaker Chambers and David Horowitz, probably the two most radical and committed [...]

    9. Regardless of your political views, this book opens new insights into definitions of liberals, conservatives, Marxists , leftists and other ideologies over the last 100 years. This book lets the reader reflect on their own political journey. The labels that define left and right have shifted over time and the conversions are important. This book details 6 liberals who abandoned the leftist ideals. Each individual searched for their own political identity and abandoned many of their lofty ideals. [...]

    10. This book was a fascinating study of how people change across time, and how six particular individuals moved from the (often communist or radical) left to the right (with varying degrees of success). Some of the men are far more interesting or likable than others, with Whittaker Chambers probably being my favorite. Most of the men, brethren apostates of sorts, overlap in their timelines and interact across time and space. Their stories of metamorphism are interesting in how much ease or lack of, [...]

    11. This book has some echoes of "The God that Failed" which I had read a year or two before as it contains biographies of six public figures, the most notable being Ronald Reagan and Christopher Hitchens. The book thus provides interesting insights into these persons, the other four of whom I hadn't previously encountered and how they changed political tack from the left, in some cases far left to the right as they saw world events in a different light. However, as interesting as these biographies [...]

    12. ***1/2 -- Oppenheimer has clearly done much meticulous and enthusiastic research, and he can tell a fine story, with a smart but friendly voice that's as forbearing as it is sharply observant. Most of the time, what seems to be the book's raison d'etre -- the demonstration and inspiration of a difficult generosity toward the complexity of other's experiences, even when those experiences might appear to us to badly mislead or warp them -- comes through well. There are just a few too many moments [...]

    13. The subtitle is misleading, it should have been "The stories of leftist who eventually left the left"the whole "And Reshaped the American Century" wasn't touched on at all, unless the author meant how they Leftist reshaped the American Century while still on the Left.The book gives well written biographies of individuals who were on the Left and shares about the factors which led them to reconsider and exit Right, and then abruptly stops and moves on to the next person. The book only really cove [...]

    14. I very much enjoyed reading the “Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century” (Simon & Schuster, 2016), which details the movement of six very different individuals from the political left to the political right. The book’s subjects are Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz and Christopher Hitchens, each of whose apostasy is explicated in a chapter.Read more at rstreet/2016/02/03/lef

    15. I read John P. Diggen's "Up from Communism" years ago and Diggen's stuck with me every since. Curious Oppenheimer never mentions Diggen's here because I think his book really a companion book and the two should be read together. Oppenheimer's chapters on James Burnham, Norman Pohoretz, and David Horowtiz the best parts. Chambers and Reagan have good biographies, and somehow I just felt shorted with the chapter on Hitchen's. Oppenheimer tangled his opinions on the second Iraq War with Hitchen's s [...]

    16. I only listened to the audiobook of this because books that I thought I would like better weren't available. But it turned out to be a very interesting book about how people form their opinions and change them. After I finished the book, I went back and listened to the introduction again.

    17. The look into what The Left looked like for the individual people who lived within its many incarnations is invaluable and captivating and is very relevant to my interests, I just wish he hadn't chosen almost exclusively academics to explore this theme with.

    18. Oppenheimer has written a wonderfully engaging intellectual history of the American Left in the 20th century - through a series of biographical essays on the consequential figures who turned to the Right. As a biographer, Oppenheimer makes trenchant observations of his subjects. He also writes elegantly with a balance of distance, irony, understanding, and compassion. His final notes on Christopher Hitchens are particularly moving. Some essays (Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Norman Podhoretz [...]

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