A funny thing happened on the way to this review: I saw Garrison Keillor perform. The Lake Wobegon author shared the stage with a jazz band, a blues singer, violinists and radio comedians. It was a dizzying, patchy and occasionally obtuse performance, punctuated with moments of brilliance.
Americans love to honour their former presidents: paintings, statues, libraries. Even airports get relabelled. Since 1963, travellers to New York have been touching down at JFK; Washington DC is served by Reagan national airport. There is now a campaign, led by senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, to give Harry Truman his due by renaming DC's main train station Truman Union station. But the plan is facing an unexpected opponent, from beyond the grave: Truman himself.
Edmund Burke maintains a strong hold on the English conservative imagination, but is scarcely known on the other side of the Atlantic. Thomas Paine, while half-forgotten in his native Britain, is presented to American eighth-graders as a founding philosopher of the 1776 revolution. Yuval Levin treats their ideas in tandem, and shows how their disagreements – most vividly over the French revolution, most intensely over the political authority of history – illuminate divisions in politics to this day, especially those between left and right.