The Great Edmund Burke

Harvey C. Mansfield, "The Great Edmund Burke," review of The Great Melody, by Conor Cruise O'Brien, New Criterion, November 1992.


The publication of The Great Melody is an event not just in the small circle of Edmund Burke scholarship but also in the larger community of historians. Still more, and above all, it is a gift to anyone who wants to understand politics. Conor Cruise O’Brien, the all-around Irish journalist, critic, lecturer, politician, and scholar, has produced a “thematic biography” of Burke the statesman that is worthy of its great subject. O’Brien would wish for no higher praise, and he deserves it first of all because he has made it possible. With his book he has restored Burke’s reputation for our time and thus enabled us to see, despite the denigration of historians, just what sort of biography might be adequate to Burke.

O’Brien turns his back on Burke the political philosopher. That Burke has enjoyed the attention and patronage …

New Criterion