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Just before he died after a long and distinguished international career as a politician, commentator, and author, Conor Cruise O'Brien completed a study of George Washington's presidency. Cruise O'Brien has been described as "a man who so persistently asks the right questions" (The Economist), and in this, his last book, he explores the question of how early America's future was determined.First in Peace considers the dissension between Washington and Jefferson during the first U.S. presidency, and reveals Washington's clear-sighted political wisdom while exposing Jefferson's dangerous ideology. Cruise O'Brien makes the case that Washington, not Jefferson, was the true democrat, and commends his clarity of vision in restoring good relations with Britain, his preference for order and pragmatism, and his aversion to French political extremism.
This is the last in a series of books by Irish intellectual O'Brien arguing that the French Revolution was not an extension of the principles of the American Revolution, but a negation of those principles. It examines the presidency of George Washington, focusing on the dissension between Washington and Jefferson regarding the extremist tactics of the French Revolution. An introduction by Christopher Hitchens, a commentator representing the opposite end of the political spectrum from O'Brien, puts the interpretation into the larger context of O'Brien's work on the importance of rational discourse over ideology. O'Brien was a diplomat and scholar. Annotation c2010 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
"All my life," writes Conor Cruise O'Brien, "I have been fascinated and puzzled by nationalism and religion; by the interaction of the two forces, sometimes in unison, sometimes antagonistic." In these wide-ranging and penetrating essays, O'Brien examines how throughout the world today these age-old forces are once again threatening democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of expression -- particularly in the United States, the nation founded on Enlightenment values. He weaves together beautifully written discussions on these and other timely, related topics. Enlivening his grim predictions with dry wit, he nevertheless conveys an apocalyptic sense of the threats facing democracy as we approach the third millennium.