The First Conservative
By Jesse Norman
(Basic Books, Hardcover, 9780465058976, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 2013
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Edmund Burke is the greatest and perhaps also the most underrated political thinker of the past three hundred years. A brilliant 18th century political theorist, philosopher, and statesman, Burke was a fierce champion of human rights and the Anglo-American constitutional tradition, and a lifelong campaigner against arbitrary power. Burke’s enormous importance has been largely forgotten in recent years, but as Jesse Norman, MP and scholar of political theory, argues in this penetrating biography, we cannot understand modern politics without him. Burke offered a compelling critique of liberal individualism, and laid the groundwork for contemporary conservatism by putting forth a vision of society based not on a self-interested agreement among individuals, but rather on an enduring covenant between generations.
In Edmund Burke, Norman explores Burke’s convictions about community, inherited institutions, and civic virtue, showing how his analytical mind and his deep capacity for empathy made Burke such a vital thinkerboth for his own age, and for ours.
Jesse Norman is member of Parliament for Hereford and South Herefordshire. He holds a PhD from the University College London, has taught philosophy at University College London and Birkbeck College, and is the author of several books and political treatises, including Compassionate Conservatism. He lives in London.