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Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America (or at least the Republican Party)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  807 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Book by Dreher, Rod
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Crown Forum
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Start your review of Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America (or at least the Republican Party)
Simon Stegall
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well, I did it. I finally read Crunchy Cons. I'd been delaying this for a while, not because I don't appreciate Dreher's work but because I felt that I knew the book already. Among the people I run with, Crunchy Cons has approached the level of semi-holy writ. I resisted my friends' urgings to read it because I thought I had absorbed the entire book by sheer osmosis.

But I am very glad that I read it. Dreher manages to cut through the nonsense of politics and ideology commonly associated with the
Jul 08, 2008 rated it liked it
there was one thing i loved about this book and two problems with it.

i loved that dreher calls conservatives to recover the meaning of the word "conserve," especially as it pertains to the environment, independent locally-owned business, and abandoned urban spaces. he makes a persuasive case that these causes, currently associated with liberalism, have a historically-grounded and logical place in conservative thought. great. more of that.

the first problem is that dreher contradicts his calls f
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political
It took me awhile to get through this book. The writing style is a little dry and the same points are made over and over....I agreed with the points but it became very tiring.
I also felt there was a lot of generalizing being done and I didn't agree with it. I agreed with his main points, however, there was little flexibility. For example there is a chapter on homeschooling and even though I firmly believe in homeschooling I don't think it is the end all educational choice.

Having said that I woul
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was an important book for me. I've always felt that I was neither a Republican nor a Democrat - uneasy with the social policies of the Democrats and the economic policies of the Republicans. And, thanks to this book, I've figured it out - I'm pretty much a "crunchy con". Nik and I both marveled at how Dreher quoted so many of the authors we have been reading and enjoying - Wendell Berry, Neil Postman, Eric Brende (of "Better Off"), Matthew Scully ("Dominion..."), etc.

Some quotes that I res
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a reader of other crunchy con literature, I think this is a great introduction to the conservative-conservative way of thinking. I appreciate what Rod has done here. It is a book I feel more than comfortable handing off to friends as a way of further articulating the starting points to my own cultural thinking.
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: being-human
So, unlike many of the other reviewers, I'm not a crunchy con. I'm what Mr. Dreher would call a liberal. But, I'd wager I'm not exactly a liberal either (perhaps I'm a chewy liberal?). Still, my objective in reading this book was to find common ground and I did find it. In fact, much as it might kill him to think so, Mr. Dreher's crunchy cons have much in common with the infamous "99%." Strictly speaking, they are the 99% too.

Sure, there were things he said in this book that made me cringe or pr
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book helps to identify and name a new group emerging from the Republican Party (mostly). Moral conservatives who care about the environment, religion, beauty, family and marriage, alternative schooling, organic foods, and are against big business AND big government. (They are not pure Libertarians either since they believe in the option of having strong local and possibly State government.)

The book gets a little repetitive near the end but is refreshing in general. At its heart it's for tr
May 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: environmental
Dreher details how he and his family practice left-leaning life choices for right-leaning reasons. He divides his musings into meditations on food, home, education, the environment and religion.

I applaud Dreher's effort to bridge the gap between left and right; however, I found his stance and tone a bit too self-righteous. He stands firm that he and his wife are making the absolute best choices that anyone can make. If you eat, live, educate or worship in any other manner, you are an inferior c
Rita Book
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a kindred spirit, for sure. The first four and a half chapters went quickly even though Mr. Dreher repeats himself, but I thought I would never finish the last hundred pages. I made it! I chuckled, more than once, at his categorized uncategoricals and his "to do" list for the non-conformists he seeks to build.
An important book about a remarkable, rewarding and necessary way of life. Thank you, Mr. Dreher!
Neal Montgomery
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
I agree with most of the points Dreher made on how we should live. Within the first chapter in I knew that by his definition my wife and I are "crunchy cons" but if we weren't already I'm not sure I would have been convinced by the arguments laid out in his book. Overall it was an odd experience to read about ideas I agree with but be underwhelmed by them.
Stephen Hicks
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have been deeply engaged with Dreher's thoughts and writings (mostly his articles) for some time now, but this is the first time I have read his personal manifesto for living sensibly. I must say, it was a glorious reminder of the roots of some of my most beloved and cherished desires and philosophies. It did come at a vital time for me personally, as I have strayed from my beliefs about conservatism since moving to a new city, but this book brought me back with a much needed forcefulness. Dre ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would give this book five stars for the content, because I thought it was brilliant. The author seemed to put 99% of my beliefs as a "Crunchy Conservative" into words. I found myself nodding along and dog-earing page after page. But I absolutely loathed how he set up the chapters. They were all one big run-on paragraph. Yes, he did technically separate things out into paragraphs, and it was easy to read. BUT. The chapters were looooooooong, most of them 30+ pages, with no breaks, headings, etc ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I sympathize with many of Dreher's critiques of movement conservatism, even though they are overwrought at times and are generalizations that he really hasn't taken the necessary time to prove. That latter problem is why I rated this book two stars. Dreher has a maddening tendency to caricature his opponents, give statements rather than arguments, make sweeping generalizations that break down with the slightest questioning, and leave the reader with conflicting ideas because of his ability for i ...more
Charles J
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a classic that I finally got around to reading. Maybe it’s strange to say a book less than ten years old is a classic, but Dreher is the foremost exponent today of what might be called “alternative conservatism,” and he would call the “Benedictine Option,” but what most people would call “traditional conservatism,” which has considerable overlap with certain viewpoints on life commonly attributed to liberals, or more accurately to hippies and similar “alternative lifestyles.” He ni ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, borrowed
I was excited about reading Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher because we’re crunchy and ideologically conservative, and the subtitle intrigued me. We got on the list at our local public library and waited it out. From the preface, the book caught and kept my attention. Dreher is a gifted and personal writer who is easy to read. Because crunchy cons are my kind of people, I often wanted to cheer as I read along.

Many of the ideological emphases of the book are ones we value in our family. We care about m
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
The author and I do not hold the same view on everything. Yet, I can, and do deeply appreciate his perspective. He is the only author I've read who writes about architecture in a way that makes me want to worship God. :-) It was refreshing to read something written by a conservative who does not walk in lock step with the status quo. I think everyone can get something out of this book. Since I never feel my writing does justice to the labor of an author, I'm going to go ahead with my usual custo ...more
Doug Trouten
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christians looking for an authentic approach to politics and culture
Faith and politics is often an awkward mixture. Well-meaning people, inspired by their faith, get involved in politics for reasons of principle but find power instead -- and sometimes the power feels so good that compromises are made in order to keep it. The result is a political divide within the faith community where neither side seems to be what Jesus had in mind when he told us to give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar.

Rod Dreher offers a fresh approach. He notes that on the left,
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This was very thought provoking for the first half...and I even started a discussion thread on it, because I really wanted to be able to talk to someone about it. But by the second half of the book, I felt like the author had already made all his major points, and he was getting repetitive.

Also--for a book that was supposed to be about people who defy labels and stereotypes, I thought it spent an awful lot of time defining and categorizing "crunchy cons" and making that a new label. Example: I
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really resonated with this book. I agree with Rod Dreher wholeheartedly - but especially when he points out that to BE conservative, we must BE CONSERVATIVE. That is, we cannot continue to allow the excesses of big business to destroy the American people, we cannot continue to allow excesses in general to destry the environment, and we cannot continue to allow excesses to destroy US. There is a POINT in having a belief system - and belief in consumerism doesn't do the same thing for us that be ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I like any work that makes me think. I particularly am drawn to any work that offers a contrarian view to what is considered to be the orthodoxy of the day. So, it should be no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend Crunchy Cons. As someone who considers himself of the crunchy con variety, I was particularly drawn to Mr. Dreher's views regarding protecting the environment, support for homeschooling, and preserving our history and traditions and instutions such as the family. I p ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise to find this book (thanks book fellow book club member Trudy!) I found myself nodding my head in agreement to so much of it. The sentiments Rod Dreher expresses are the same feelings I've had for a long time. To know that there are many other conservatives out there who don't necessarily agree w/ the Republican party's policies, do think there's more to life than the acquisition of stuff, do think we may not be taking our faith seriously enough and do enjoy a glass of go ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is essential for those who want to break away from the typical hawkish, pro-life libertarianism that many today call conservatism. I recommend that people read this book first, before reading others such as Russell Kirks, "Conservative Mind." It makes very few political judgments, but reduces conservatism down to family and localism. One's domestic life and impact to community is more important than one's abstract views of national policy and social justice. This is an easy and quick r ...more
Philip E.
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Everybody wants to have a happy life. Dreher encourages a return to the things that have been shown to be part of such a life, "the Permanent Things" (a borrowed phrase). He has lived his subject and interviewed both liberal and conservative counter-cultural citizens across the country. The result was, for me, the sense that if I had to write a book of advice about living well, this would be pretty close to what I'd write.
This is not directly political, in spite of the cover art and subtitle.
Apr 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who can see past a stupid subtitle and realize that there is a good book hiding under it
Dreher's book is quite interesting. It is from a Christian, conservative viewpoint, and yet it decries the Republican mainstream. It advocates a return to leadership in our leaders, instead of politicism. No doubt it has been long-sought-out. This book is one of the primary cornerstones of my worldview, and if anyone wants to shake up theirs, I recommend this book.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes!
It is a book about conservatives who "stand outside the conservative mainstream"... Three cheers for anyone who chooses to maintain their values while stepping outside of mainstream culture... Thanks Liz for loving this enough to get me to pick it up!!!
Michael Hughes
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much to resonate with, whether you agree with all aspects of his perspective or not. Here's to hoping for a renewal of local economy, a largely moral society, and a passion for that which is good, true, and beautiful as defined by our Creator who is himself the measure of those things.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this. It described exactly where I'm coming from on things! I didn't even know there was a word to describe it!
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Goodreads deleted all my collected quotes from the book I had typed into a review. Boo.


"Because crunchy cons, as conservatives, do not believe in the perfectibility or essential goodness of human nature, we keep squarely in front of us the truth that absent the restraints of religion, community, law, or custom, the commercial man will tend to respect no boundaries in the pursuit of personal gain" (31).

"'Edmund Burke realized that society is more than the sum of the individuals that make i
Andrew Westphal
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
TL:DR - I agree that the "cult of efficiency" should be opposed in modern politics. Dreher gives some examples of hardcore commitment by families to the "crunchy con" lifestyle, but fails to propose action steps for the broad-based GOP establishment to become more crunchy. His last chapter focuses on the Benedictine option for withdrawing from society to crunchy, self-sustaining enclaves, and I guess his latest book "The Benedict Option" is Crunchy Cons 2.0 (post-populist edition).

I liked the co
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a political conservative. But I am, at least according to Dreher’s definition, a religious conservative and that’s really who this book is for. (i.e., Catholics, Orthodox Christians, some denominational Protestants, Orthodox Jews, and maybe some Muslims too but he doesn’t comment too much on that).

I was first drawn to this book after hearing all the hubbub about Dreher’s latest, The Benedict Option. I’ve heard it paints a rather grim picture, and I hav
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Some thoughts 1 22 Apr 23, 2009 07:33PM  

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Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has app ...more

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“Our food is a sign of what we’ve lost in general. I think if we could start slowing down for food, and rebuilding the quality of our plates, we could start rebuilding what we’ve lost in our culture. As my boss says, culture starts in the kitchen, not in the opera house.” 4 likes
“The fact is, all education is directed to some end, and if parents don’t make conscious decisions on what that end is, they are simply abdicating their role in setting the direction” of their children’s lives.” 3 likes
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