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Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition

(Ideas in Profile)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  50 reviews
" of the most eloquent and even moving evocations of the conservative tradition in Western politics, philosophy and culture I have ever read...the ideal primer for those who are new to conservative ideas..." --Richard Aldous, Wall Street Journal

A brief magisterial introduction to the conservative tradition by one of Britain's leading intellectuals.

In Conservatism,
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by All Points Books (first published 2017)
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David Huff
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had run across Sir Roger Scruton’s name at various times over the past few years, and became more acquainted with him from his numerous interviews, talks, and panel discussions available on the internet. He is a lifelong writer, philosopher, musician, and Renaissance man, having been a professor of philosophy for a number of years as well, and now pursuing his many intellectual endeavors from his country estate in rural England. It all sounds quite pleasant to me …..

This recently published
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buy, politics, read-19
Scruton traces the history of modern conservatism, and in the process defines what conservatism is and what it has stood for throughout time. I've always been conservative-leaning, but now I better understand conservatism as a philosophy in its own right and not just as a jumble of positions on different issues. It's given me a framework to navigate politics and social issues, and I will definitely be following it up with How to Be a Conservative.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
In recent years I’ve had to ask myself an awkward question: Am I, after all, a conservative?

I call the question awkward because it is political (I dislike politics) and because I have vaguely considered myself a liberal, leaning toward moderate, most of my adult life. I see, however, that I live conservatively, and as “liberalism” drowns in the incoming tide of social progressivism, I find myself stepping briskly out of the surf.

If I adopt the definition of conservatism that Roger Scruton
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a concise and well-written summary of conservatism as a political philosophy, then this is a good place to start. Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" is probably still the best book for a more detailed history of conservatism. But if you're looking for a simple introduction that reads quickly, then this is the book.
Graeme Roberts
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This small, beautifully written book filled so many gaps in my knowledge. Pure joy!
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
With Conservatism: An Introduction to the Great Tradition, Roger Scruton has written a useful introduction to not only the basic tenets of conservatism, but also to how it as redefined itself over time in response to political and social challenges.

This volume is eminently readable, owing partly to its condensed size. Unfortunately, the size of the book is also one of its drawbacks. Scruton covers roughly 400 years in 150 pages, summarizing the conservative movements in England, continental
Neil Spark
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many politicians who call themselves Conservative aren’t. Destructive actions such as legislating to reduce the powers of a Democrat governor, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing; creating gerrymanders, as Republicans have in the United States; or denying a US President the right to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court, as the then Republican dominated Senate did in 2016.
Extreme right wingers calling themselves conservative is a misnomer. They’re radical.

Well-known British
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This is an excellent review of the philosophical underpinnings of conservative thinking. He explains that conservatives at base realize that “good things are more easily destroyed than created,” and are therefore naturally wary that ideology-driven innovations may have far-reaching harmful unintended effects. He takes a historical tour through the ideas of Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel, Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke, and through more recent thinkers such as Hayek, Friedman, and Kirk. ...more
Joel Zartman
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Worthwhile survey of conservatism in Europe and the USA. Explains the various persons and their important books and locates the shifting concerns that arise in each age. It gives perspective and provokes thought.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This isn't the type of thing I usually read, but this book as it was recommended to me by someone in light of a discussion about what really constituted "conservatism." I have long asserted that I'm anything but a political animal (polis-creature, in the literal translation), but after reading it, I'm starting to question that belief. It certainly wasn't what I was initially expecting: happily, rather than focusing on tired talking points, it serves as a treatise on what I would call ...more
Eduardo Paez
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book on conservatism, after Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, I have ever read and in regards to scope, defining conservatism, and in tracing the roots, history, and evolution of conservatism, this is probably the best book you will find on any bookshelf anywhere. The contribution of key figures such as Smith, Burke, Hegel, Jefferson, de Tocqueville, Ruskin, Strauss, T.S. Eliot, Kirk, Buckley, and many more to conservatism are explained succinctly as well as their ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author of this book is an English philosopher, and a conservative. In American English, the term 'conservative' has lost a lot of its original meaning. Today, conservatism in the US means FOX News, AM talk radio, and a lot of bad websites. That wasn't always the case. Conservatism, as a political world view, has always been associated with the teachings of Aristotle, John Locke, and Adam Smith (among others). Now? Tucker Carlson, Tomi Lahren, and Rush Limbaugh. Oh: and Sean Hannity.

Bryan Sebesta
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I grew up conservative. When I went to college, being in the humanities, I tended to become much more liberal. As I read more, I came to see the (potential) wisdom of conservatism, while simultaneously seeing that what "conservatism" actually MEANS is variable in nearly every conversation I have with anyone, anywhere. Is conservatism about nationalism? About supply-side economics? Is it about preserving institutions, or culture? Is it always keeping to the status quo? Is it just someone standing ...more
Richard de Villiers
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've know of Roger Scruton for awhile but I had avoided reading him. It was nothing personal but Scruton is a political philosopher and British. I was certain that he was erudite and brilliant but I was equally confident that his writing would be dense and put me to sleep - I couldn't have been more wrong. This incredibly brief and breezy volume was even more informative than I could have imagined but it was absorbing in a way that I didn't think possible. The roots of conservatism are explored ...more
Ryan Gleue
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aptly titled

Wow! Who knew I agreed with and thought in terms of conservative thought. I simply had no idea how much simply wrong information I have been programmed with over the years.
As I entitled this review, this great work has an appropriate name. It is an invitation to continue, to transmit the way of life that is inherent to us. So many of us in the English and American tradition are simply not taught at all or are piecemeal taught our great political heritage.
This book is a great first
Matthew Trevithick
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting primer running through the highlight reel of conservative / classical liberal thought from the last 500 years or so, with an emphasis on the US - Anglo take but heavy inclusion of French and German thought. He tips his hand in more than a few places but it’s generally one of those small books where most pages are thought provoking.

Most interesting for me was a basic observation - how, for all the novelty of the modern world, so many of the discussions we have around human nature and
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm behind on my ratings...

I read this book because I read an interview he gave to the Examiner about his work and I was compelled to check out a book to see what other insights the author might provide.

Scruton is a very interesting character from England and this just added to the book. His short take on Conservatism was certainly thought provoking and engaging. The first few chapters brought new perspectives and understanding to how this philosophy came about and why it still resonates with
Robert Heckner
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Provocative, probing, and stimulating. A tour of the intellectuals that Scruton sees as constituting the conservative heritage. This short but incisive book should be read by anyone seeking to seriously understand conservatism today, especially if one is inclined to disagree with conservatives generally of Scruton in particular.
As I continue to find and articulate a political philosophy that I find best, my thoughts on conservatism will make some reference to this book. If, indeed, it is
Jeremy Morris-Jarrett
Interesting but superficial

Appears to me as a good introduction ti the notion of conservatism: it cover a wide range of sources and influences, both geographically and historically, with good references to dig deeper. However some of the argument is quite light, if not confusing. Scruton's separation of "conservatives" from "reactionaries" seems arbitrary and unconvincing, his insistence that the proper level of aliegence is the nation-state doesn't fit with the main goal of the defense of
Lewis James
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those interested in understanding the historical context in which modern conservatism has evolved, Roger Scruton provides a well-researched, Insightful & compact outline of that history. Although completely coherent & with words delicately chosen it's hardly a bundle of laughs or heart-warming anecdotes as one would expect from a historical account of political philosophy. Practically speaking, it couldn't serve it's intended purpose any more effectively and therefore is quite ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A brief history of bastardry

A short book of excuses to justify reactionary thinking in its current form. I only read it as an insight into the mind of the enemy, for whom the enlightenment was greatest tragedy in history.

That he has the bare faced check to say that nothing of note happened between 1688 and 1832 is the kind of wilful ignorance we've come to expect from the pseudo intellectual high torys of the day
Anthony Locke
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
The content of the book was excellent! However, I would not recommend trying to listen to this on audiobook - this is a better book for the eye with a notepad than for the ear on a commute. Hard to remember many of the key points, but you'd still walk away with a better understanding of conservatism.
Ann Hein
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I would have been happier with an essay covering the last chapter or two. Going back centuries was a bit much for me. People were named that I had heard of, but Scruton introduced their ideas to me. The last chapter was helpful in my understanding when he clearly showed why the conservatives of today are so upset and why they are so firm in their beliefs.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've heard the word 'conservatism' be used only in a negative sense by leftists and liberals, so it was about time I read about it from someone who defends it and calls himself a conservative.

This one is a short and very well written book that explains the main conservative beliefs and how the focus of conservatism has shifted over time.
Don Palmer
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scruton made difficult concepts understandable for me (Hegel?!?). I consider that high praise. A thoroughly enjoyable read that may sound like a dull topic, but I found it to be engrossing and learned a lot. I recommend to all - regardless of your own political leanings. Would like to read a similar book on liberalism.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's a short introduction to a large subject, so I'm sure there are many more depths to plumb, but Scruton's lucid style and his fair-mindedness make this a pretty good starting place for anyone who wants to read about the meaning and history of conservatism.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It's a decent, if limited, introduction to Anglo-American conservatism. I'd consider recommending it to students looking for historical background and as a tool for exploring the strengths and (although mostly unacknowledged by Scruton) weaknesses of the Anglo-American conservative tradition.
Michael G
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My cousin Barry’s review was right on and I highly recommend to any one who wants to better understand what conservatism really is and why it is a very natural and crucial part of the dialogue and potential solutions to the world’s problems.
Phillip W.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fine primer for introducing reader to the various streams of conservative thought. Highly recommended as a sorting tool as one confronts the madness of the postmodern world.
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Sir Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher who has published more than forty books in philosophy, aesthetics and politics. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches in both England and America and is a Visiting Professor at Department of Philosophy and Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, he is also a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public ...more

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