Jonah Goldberg on ‘The Reactionary Mind’

Friends, FYI—yesterday, Jonah Goldberg published a review of The Reactionary Mind at his newsletter, The Dispatch. Believe it or not, he liked it. (Well, sort of.) Take a look:

I got the book, picked it up, and … I loved it. It’s written in brisk, inviting, oddly unpretentious prose. The author, Michael Warren Davis, is a knowledgeable, confident writer, who writes of cobwebby things with remarkable clarity and verve. It’s fun, informative, thoroughly quirky in a good way, and full of things—mostly of secondary or tangential relevance to his thesis—that I agree with to one extent or another.

And now that I’ve gotten the sure-to-be-unexpected, blurbable praise out of the way, I should get to my primary criticism: It’s b——t.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. Davis’ advice at the end about how to live a good life is lovely and constructive, if not necessarily universal or wholly practical in its applicability. His proudly reactionary interpretations of history are fun and occasionally enlightening, but also on many occasions jaw-droppingly wrong.

Well, I’m certainly grateful for the blurb.

As you can gather, most of the review is critical. I hope you’ll read it all the more. I’m grateful to Mr. Goldberg for engaging so substantially with the book. That’s the best gift you can give a writer, as I’m sure he knows.

I think I’ll reply at more length in my Substack post on Friday. But if you haven’t bought the book, there is (alas) no time like the present.

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