from U.S. Foreign Policy Program

Heroic Conservatism

Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail if They Don't)

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of Heroic Conservatism.

Michael J. Gerson, who penned most of George W. Bush's inspiring speeches, is considered by many Democrats and Republicans to be the most influential White House speechwriter since the Kennedy administration's Ted Sorenson. Known around the administration as the "moral compass," Gerson was more than a speechwriter, he was also a trusted insider helping to make policy decisions.

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In Heroic Conservatism, he uses his own experiences in the upper tier of the Bush White House to make his point that America needs a conservatism that is heroic in its aspirations—this includes such "compassionate conservative" social strategies such as continued international AIDS funding, anti-poverty initiatives, and a government leadership rooted in moral values.

Written in Gerson's own accessible voice and with his unique ability to frame complex issues in a way that both challenges and inspires, Heroic Conservatism is a new manifesto for the Republican party and a fascinating memoir of a history-shaping Presidency.

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Reviews and Endorsements

Gerson's narrative of his years with Bush is gripping. His analysis of what went right—and wrong—is fascinating. His recommendations for conservatives are thought-provoking. In a word: For anyone interested in politics—this book is a must-read.

William Kristol, editor, the Weekly Standard

This brilliant, entertaining, and honest book repairs conservatism's moral compass and beckons national leaders to practice, not just preach, the politics of promoting the common good both at home and abroad. From faith-based initiatives to the war in Iraq, from the Katrina fiasco to foreign aid, it offers a constructively critical and comprehensive assessment of the Bush White House. Written by an unfailingly loyal but intellectually serious insider, Heroic Conservatism will enliven today's debates about the president's character, the administration's competence, and the Republicans' electoral future. It will also be read and studied long after those debates and their protagonists are history.

John J. DiIulio Jr., professor, University of Pennsylvania, and first director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Michael Gerson has written a thoughtful and provocative book about the state of our politics and the future of conservatism. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you will be well-served to sit down and read this important book.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT)

Gerson has been hailed as the finest presidential speechwriter in fifty years and this book shows why. ... Written with clarity, candor, gravity, and grace, this vivid, strongly argued memoir of Gerson's White House years and his case for heroic conservatism make for uniquely insightful and captivating reading. It will stir up much needed debate among conservatives and liberals alike.

Michael Cromartie, vice president, Ethics and Public Policy Center

One of the brightest thinkers in America, Michael Gerson, gives us a compelling conservative manifesto, rooted in conscience and aimed at advancing human freedom, God's greatest gift. There is plenty here to challenge all shades of conservatives to a healthy and needed debate on the future of the movement.

Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship

This elegantly written volume provides a penetrating and revealing portrait of George W. Bush. It is at the same time a passionate call for implementing a heroic conservatism consistent with America's ideals of individual liberty and responsibility.

Roger B. Porter, IBM professor of business and government, Kennedy School of Government

In this exquisitely written book Michael Gerson combines the most illuminating picture we have yet had of the inner workings of the Bush White House with a very provocative statement of the case for the new species of conservatism it has striven to implement both at home and abroad.

Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary

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