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The topic of American conservatism is especially timely—and perhaps volatile. Is there what might be termed an “exceptional” form of conservatism that is characteristically American, in contrast to conservatisms found in other countries? Are views that are identified in the United States as conservative necessarily congruent with what political theorists might classify under that label? Or does much American conservatism almost necessarily reflect the distinctly liberal background of American political thought?
In American Conservatism, a distinguished group of American political and legal scholars reflect on these crucial questions, unpacking the very nature and development of American conservative thought. They examine both the historical and contemporary realities of arguments offered by self-conscious conservatives in the United States, offering a well-rounded view of the state of this field. In addition to synoptic overviews of the various dimensions of American conservative thought, specific attention is paid to such topics as American constitutionalism, the role of religion and religious institutions, and the particular impact of the late Leo Strauss on American thought and thinkers. Just as American conservatism includes a wide, and sometimes conflicting, group of thinkers, the essays in this volume themselves reflect differing and sometimes controversial assessments of the theorists under discussion.