Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Jesse Norman’s Intellectual Biography of Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet. London: William Collins, 2013.

Norman himself in The Telegraph:

& on You-tube:

& BBC:

Some reviews:


New Statesman:…/reviewed-edmund-burke


The Oxonian Review:

Literary Review:

George Mason U’s History News Network:

Douglas Murray in The Spectator: “At the close of his book Norman lists six key lessons we might take from his hero: that extreme liberalism is in crisis; that Burkeanism could address that crisis; that Burke provided a model of political leadership; that excessive power and its abuse should be opposed wherever it comes from; that the best bulwark against such abuse is the rule of law and working representative government; and finally that Burke provides ‘a context within which to understand the loss and recovery of social value’”.

John Gray in the NS (rightly I think) sees Norman’s book as partly a critique of the Thatcherite version of conservatism. He summarizes her (very anti-Burkean) premiership thus: “As a consequence of her leadership, the Conservative Party is in some ways weaker than it has ever been. Turning it into an instrument of her personal will, she triggered a coup that has left every subsequent Tory leader on permanent probation. Alienating Scotland, she virtually wiped out her party north of the border and planted a large question mark over the Union. Within England, her indifference to the human costs of de-industrialisation deepened the north-south divide. The result is a hollowed-out and shrunken party that faces huge obstacles in ever again forming a government. For someone who has been described as the greatest Conservative leader since Churchill, it’s quite a list of achievements. If you wanted to shake up Britain and change it beyond recognition, Thatcher was, of all postwar leaders, the one mostly likely to have this effect”.


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This entry was posted on August 21, 2014 by in History of Ideas and tagged , .
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