Michael Novak: "Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative"

Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative
Image Books. September 2013.
Engagingly, writing as if to old friends and foes, Michael Novak shows how Providence (not deliberate choice) placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time: a month in wartime Vietnam, the student riots of the 1960s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton's welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, Václav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape—and reshape—his political views.

Yet through it all, as Novak’s sharply etched memoir shows, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant; he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy-free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies. Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable. Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail. Free societies need three liberties in one: economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty of spirit.

Novak’s writing throughout is warm, fast paced, and often very beautiful. His narrative power is memorable.

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Also of Interest

PAPAL ECONOMICS: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, by Maciej Zieba.
Intercollegiate Studies Institute. July 31, 2013.

Maciej Zieba, OP, a close associate of Pope John Paul II, is the author of The Surprising Pope: Understanding the Thought of John Paul II. He was a key player in the Polish Solidarity movement and is the director of the European Solidarity Center and the founder of the Tertio Millennio Institute in Poland. Father Zieba has lectured extensively on economics and theology. Reviews

  • Popes on Economics, by Michael P. Orsi. First Things 10/23/13. "There exists a great deal of confusion regarding the popes’ social encyclicals. The problem is threefold: they span over one hundred years in changing political and social milieus; the language that is used is inconsistent; and, finally, there are competing tensions contained in the documents. This book navigates the reader through the confusion."
  • Toward a More Human State of Economics, by Gabriel Torretta, O.P. Catholic World Report 10/16/13.