Friday, April 22, 2011

Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary

Illuminating. Pat Moynihan was a prolific writer who served in government in a variety of roles for over forty years. A new book, Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary, presents the scope and scale of his interests in a succinct 700 pages. The fine editing by Steven Weisman allows the words of Moynihan to come to life and to illuminate readers on the issues that engaged him, and the sage and visionary advice he provided to many United States Presidents. After both short and long pieces in this collection, I found myself saying, “Wow.” Here’s one such summary (p. 664): “In some 40 years of government work I have learned one thing for certain. As I have put it, the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself. Thanks to this interaction, we’re a better society in nearly all respects than we were.” Any reader interested in politics, especially over the past half-century, will find much to savor in this fine book.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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