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Review: The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin

By Jonathan Derbyshire  

9780465062980The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin (Basic, £18.99)

“American politics these days,” Yuval Levin writes, “can seem impossibly complicated.” It can also seem toxically polarised—between conservatives and liberals, “red” states and “blue” states, Republicans and Democrats. Levin’s proposal in this engaging and provocative book is that the roots of this division—which often appears to have as much to do with culture as it does with policy—lie in the 18th century, in the debates between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine over the French Revolution.

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