Adam Gopnik

A long train journey has given me an opportunity of reading more of Adam Gopnik’s A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism – a book in which he defends his view of life: liberal, sceptical, cautious, tolerant, humane, deeply well informed, against the rising tide of authoritarianism. There is a risk of it being viewed as too self-regarding, the defence of his own intellectual and academic privileges, but it is extremely understanding, and respectful, of the intellectual position of the opposition – the conservative authoritarians who include Samuel Johnson, about whom he writes with great sympathy, Edmund Burke, Benjamin Disraeli and G. K. Chesterton. He writes particularly well of the downfall of more traditional communities in places like Akron and Lille, which has led to the rise of the nostalgic right, so destructively hostile to the liberalism of the New Yorker elite.

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