Review: Steven B. Smith, Reading Leo Strauss
Publishers Weekly recently reviewed Steven B. Smith’s Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism: "Though German philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973) is referred to as the father of neo-conservatism, Yale political science professor Smith argues that relationship is a ‘mountain of nonsense’ and that Strauss was ‘a friend of liberal democracy—one of the best friends democracy ever had.…’ Smith quietly builds a persuasive case that Strauss’s work ‘makes clear that the danger to the West comes not from liberalism but from our loss of confidence in it.’"
Interest in Leo Strauss is greater now than at any time since his death, mostly because of the purported link between his thought and the political movement known as neoconservatism. Steven B. Smith, though, surprisingly depicts Strauss not as the high priest of neoconservatism but as a friend of liberal democracy—perhaps the best defender democracy has ever had. Moreover, in Reading Leo Strauss, Smith shows that Strauss’s defense of liberal democracy was closely connected to his skepticism of both the extreme Left and extreme Right.