The Essential Russell Kirk - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Essential Russell Kirk

Selected Essays

Written by Russell Kirk, edited by George A. Panichas

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The Essential Kirk lives up to its title.” —The American Conservative
“An excellent introduction to a great conservative mind.” —National Review Online

This volume captures the astonishing breadth and depth of Russell Kirk’s intellectual project. It offers the perfect introduction to a thinker whose wisdom is desperately needed today, and more relevant than ever.

“You can’t tell the story of modern American conservatism without [Russell Kirk].” —Matthew Continetti, The Atlantic



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As the author of The Conservative Mind and other influential books, Russell Kirk stands as a seminal figure in the founding of the modern American conservative movement. More than that, he was a great American man of letters.

And as this volume demonstrates, Kirk was perhaps at his best as an essayist.

The Essential Russell Kirk stands as the first anthology of essays by this sage thinker and eloquent stylist. This volume captures the astonishing breadth and depth of Kirk’s intellectual project. Editor George A. Panichas has made what Chronicles calls a “near-perfect selection” of more than forty essays from Kirk’s vast body of work. It is why The American Conservative declares, “The Essential Kirk lives up to its title.” 

This collection of Kirk’s finest essays offers the perfect introduction to a thinker whose wisdom is desperately needed today, and more relevant than ever.

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“George A. Panichas’ superbly edited compilation of Kirk’s essays provides further evidence that a welcomed and long overdue revival of interest in Kirk’s thought is now underway. . . . The product of five years of meticulous editing, The Essential Kirk lives up to its title. Even though Kirk’s essays have been anthologized before (mostly by Kirk himself), this collection is the first to cover the entire spectrum of his life’s work.”—The American Conservative

“An excellent introduction to a great conservative mind.”—National Review Online

 “The conclusion that, without Kirk, modern American conservatism would not have existed alone merits the recent publication of The Essential Russell Kirk, a collection of his writings. Edited by the distinguished literary critic George Panichas, it is a significant contribution to understanding his place in American intellectual history.”—The New Criterion

“If conservatism is to contribute to the urgent task of repairing a torn culture, it must first repair itself. In this magnificent collection of his writings, Russell Kirk, the major prophet of modern American conservatism, brings us back to first principles and reminds us of the things that are permanent. In surveying the past, he illuminates the way ahead.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, historian and author

“Panichas has made a near-perfect selection of 42 essays, arranging them in nine sections that touch on every major theme of Kirk’s more than 40 years of intellectual endeavor. . . . Each of those sections receives a slightly longer introduction, and Panichas has written a Preface to the entire volume that is far more illuminating than much longer, even book-length, treatments of Kirk’s thought.”—Chronicles

“To say that this is a timely volume is to risk understatement. As Europe grapples with its historic identity, as Brussels expands its bureaucratic reach, and with electorates on both sides of the Atlantic divided along ideological lines, a call to remember ‘the permanent things’ in the interest of judging the present is very much in order. Panichas deserves gratitude not only for reproducing these essays in a single volume, but for his learned and insightful introduction to each.”—Jude P. Dougherty, Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America

“For more than forty years and in more than thirty books, and in countless articles, Kirk fought on the front line in the war of ideas. He is, arguably, but in many circles indisputably, the modern age’s godfather of authentic conservative intellectualism. Seen in their completeness, this compendium of commentaries disclose his extraordinary breadth and thought as a social critic and an ethical teacher. He is a foremost man of letters in the conservative army.”—The Sutherland Institute

“With the exception of his unflinching critique of communism, there is next to no discussion of contemporary policy or electoral politics in the 600 pages of eclectic and elegantly woven essays that constitute The Essential Russell Kirk. . . . Kirk believed that the most urgent task consisted in educating hearts and minds through the recovery and renewal of neglected sources of wisdom.”—Policy Review

“The Essential Russell Kirk is a godsend for anyone who cares about post-war American intellectual history, a far more intrinsically interesting and varied subject than the post-war intellectual history of anywhere else in the English-speaking world. One can accord this volume no higher compliment than to say that Kirk himself would have approved of it.”—National Observer (Australia)

“Perhaps this well-edited collection will help a new generation to articulate an authentic and thoroughly Christian conservatism while promoting a civil discourse more historically informed and better equipped to understand and address the deepening spiritual crisis of the West.”—Touchstone

“[Kirk] made clear to a whole generation that conservatism is not an economic but a cultural outlook, and that it would have no future if reduced merely to the philosophy of profit.”—Sir Roger Scruton

“All conservatives must be grateful to [Kirk] for recalling us to values that are as precious as they are besieged.”—Roger Kimball, The New Criterion

“You can’t tell the story of modern American conservatism without [Russell Kirk]. . . . Kirk’s writing has much to offer this generation of conservatives—and liberals—as they consider what attitudes to adopt toward artificial intelligence, Silicon Valley, social media, free speech, drone wars, globalization, and entitlement spending.”—Matthew Continetti, The Atlantic


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