Lind, Michael 1962-
Lind, Michael 1962-
PERSONAL: Born April 23, 1962. Education: Attended Yale University and University of Texas. Religion: Methodist.
ADDRESSES: Home—Washington, DC. Office—New America Foundation, 1630 Connecticut Ave. NW, 7th Fl., Washington, DC 20009. E-mail—[email protected] net.
CAREER: Journalist, writer, and editor. National Interest, executive editor, 1991-94; Harper’s, New York, NY, senior editor, beginning 1994; New America Foundation, director of American Strategy Project and Whitehead Senior Fellow.
(Author of introduction) The New Republic Guide to the Issues: The 1996 Campaign, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Powertown (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Up from Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America, Free Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Alamo: An Epic (epic poem), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.
(Editor and author of introduction) Hamilton’s Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition, Free Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict, Free Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Ted Halstead) The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2001.
When You Are Someone Else, Aralia Press (West Chester, PA), 2002.
Bluebonnet Girl (poetry), illustrated by Kate Kiesler, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, New America/Basic Books (New York, NY), 2003.
What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.
Poems, Zoo Press (Omaha, NE), 2005.
The American Way of Strategy, Oxford University Press (Oxford; New York), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Lind was the editor of the conservative journal National Interest and a protege of columnist William F. Buckley, Jr., until the changing tide of Republican politics caused him to reevaluate his right-of-center stance. The rising popularity of archconservative, fundamentalist Christian politics as embodied by Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, and the incorporation of some of their ideology into more mainstream Republican thought, was the impetus behind Lind’s defection. Leaving both the National Interest and the flock, he took a job as a senior editor at Harper’s and wrote his first book, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution. In the 1995 work, Lind presents the theory that the history of American national identity can be divided into three epochs: the “Anglo-America,” when the country’s first settlers were mostly emigrants from the British Isles; the “Euro-America,” from the Civil War until World War II; and finally, “Multicultural America,” from about 1950 until the present.
In The Next American Nation, Lind finds great fault with the idea of enforced multiculturalism during this latest phase, and posits that its actual strategy is to keep Americans divided and resentful of other ethnic groups, even though they may have common interests. As a remedy, Lind proposes numerous and dramatic changes. He advises abolishing certain class-perpetuating prerogatives, such as the M.D. and J.D. titles and the favoring of children of alumni in Ivy League admissions policies, suggests relocating inner-city families to more positive suburban environments, and finally, argues a case for the nullification of all affirmative action policies and quota systems. Lind and his theories attracted widespread attention in the media, much of it positive. “Lind is a pleasure to read because he is so manifestly intelligent and because he has done a great deal of hard and consistent work,” noted Christopher Hitchens in the New York Times Book Review. “Sacred cows are slaughtered at the rate of one a paragraph,” remarked Alan Ryan, contributor to the New York Review of Books. “Lind turns upside down every platitude of orthodox American history and political science.” In the New York Times, Richard Bernstein faulted the book, describing it as “both tendentious and dreamy, based too much on pure thought and not enough on any experience with the way the world actually works,” but the critic conceded that “Lind saves himself by his obvious intelligence. His book is one of the best—certainly it is the most visionary, the most forward-looking—in the growing library of works on the American identity, multiculturalism and the future.”
In The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, written with Ted Halstead, Lind offers up the political concept of the radical center. “Beyond the familiar concepts of left and right, untold numbers of Americans are somewhere in the middle,” remarked Richard D. Kahlenberg in American Prospect. “They are centrist in the sense that they represent a broad part of the American mainstream. But some are radical, too, in that they are deeply disapproving of the untrammeled privilege and unbalanced power that mars American democracy,” Kahlenberg wrote. Based on work with Lind and Halstead’s political think tank, the New America Foundation, the book provides a detailed elaboration on the politics and thinking of the “alienated majority” that makes up the political center. “In the authors’ eyes, the radical center is not the equivalent of the so-called Reagan Democrats of the 1980s; Halstead and Lind find radical centrists among all Americans who feel disengaged from the Republican and Democratic parties,” Kahlenberg commented.
If no other lesson emerged from the effect of Ralph Nader’s candidacy on the 2000 presidential elections, there was “the notion that American politics is desperately in need of reform,” wrote Daniel Casse in Commentary. The two-party adversarial system is no longer relevant in the current technologically savvy age. “Independent voters are the new majority,” Casse remarked. In response to this position, The Radical Center “sets forth a new philosophy for American political life and specific, far-reaching proposals for changing the role and shape of government,” Casse observed. Among Lind and Halstead’s proposed reforms are elimination of the current tax code; abandoning the reliance on employer-sponsored health care in favor of mandatory private individual insurance, supported with assistance for those who cannot afford it; adoption of a federal funding system for schools; ending race-based preferences; and offering improved tax advantages for charitable contributions made to help the poor. They support a ranking system for elections that would allow voters to numerically order their choices according to preference.
The authors’ “arguments are quite persuasive and, to their credit, they write in a clear, succinct prose style and employ a McCainesque straight-talk sensibility that will help them attract the independent, centrist-minded voters at whom the book is aimed,” wrote Heath Ma-dom in Library Journal. Other critics noted that the authors offer an interesting selection of policy ideas but little concrete information on how to impose them. “Despite overextending themselves in the sheer volume of reforms they propose, Halstead and Lind have nevertheless crafted an intriguing collection of public policy reforms, sure to be debated in years to come,” observed Paul McCleary in Social Policy. “All in all,” Kahlenberg noted, “Halstead and Lind have done a superb job of outlining a provocative starting point for the radical center.”
Lind analyzes the political structure and “delves deep into the heart of George W. Bush’s Texas” in Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Lind reports that the politics of western Texas are rife with racism, exploitation of the environment, “jingoistic militarism, crony capitalism,” a bias against public education, and “a fundamentalist evangelicism inconsistent with the separation of church and state,” the Publishers Weekly contributor wrote. A Texan himself, Lind warns against a “southern takeover of American politics,” wrote Gary Rosen in Commentary. “Mr. Lind treats Texas as a southern state masquerading as a western one, and believes Mr. Bush is involved in a similar disguise,” wrote a reviewer in the Economist. Bush is considered the first southern conservative to hold the office of president since James Polk in 1844. “Worse,” the Economist reviewer commented, Bush has “set about reordering the world in a similarly reactionary way, pushing religion into domestic policy and militarism back into diplomacy.” Made in Texas “offers a trenchant intellectual analysis of the reactionary, rightwing roots of Bush in the Lone Star State,” wrote an interviewer on the Buzzflash Web site.
The author reveals the thinking behind his move away from conservatism in his 1996 book Up from Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America. Lind recounts his beginning as a Texas Democrat and his switch to conservatism after attending Yale University, where, as a grad student, he turns against liberal politics. Lind recounts his decision to go to the right, his work as a researcher for William F. Buckley, Jr., and then his eventual falling away from conservatism as it takes on an extreme course in the early 1990s. In addition, Lind recounts the numerous ways he believes the political right is wrong, including its stance on taxes and the inherent bigotry that he sees in right-wing politics. “Lind offers a political analysis of the ascent of conservatism and a critique of some of its most stirring ideas, basted together with enough personal testimony to warrant that he was right to exit,” commented Todd Gitlin in the Washington Monthly.
The author’s novel, Powertown, was also published in 1996 and offers a portrait of Washington and its power elite. Mary Carroll, writing in Booklist, commented that the author’s “characters are people readers will recognize: clumsy, insensitive, sometimes deluded, but seldom intentionally cruel.” A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Lind “has… fashioned a fast-paced and stylish tale about the corruption of power and the power of corruption.”
Among the author’s politically charged books is Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict. Published in 1999, the book examines in depth the Vietnam War and the failings of the U.S. military establishment to correctly diagnose the type of war America had become involved in and the ultimate long-term effects of losing the public’s confidence, especially pertaining to the Cold War. “Challenging the shibboleths of academic orthodoxy, Lind makes the case that Vietnam was, above all else, a battle in a larger conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union,” noted Michael Rust in Insight on the News. Michael D. Hull and Marc D. Bornstein wrote in the periodical Vietnam: “In this thoughtful, clear-eyed examination, the author throws all the myths, lies and half-truths out of the proverbial window while presenting an intelligent perspective of the Vietnam War that has been long overdue.”
Lind is also the editor and author of the introduction to Hamilton’s Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition. This anthology presents, according to Foreign Affairs contributor David C. Hendrickson, “a commendable…. effort to draw together the principal writings of American thinkers and leaders who have drawn inspiration from Alexander Hamilton.” Stephen Shaw, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the “book must be encountered in the ongoing debate about the health of our body politic.”
Lind presents a tale in verse in The Alamo: An Epic. Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, referred to The Alamo as “an epic in the tradition of Homer, the Romans, and their Renaissance imitators.” In his book, the author recounts the last stand of the men who manned the Alamo in Texas in 1836. Among their members were the legendary Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, who were both killed by Mexican troops in the battle. However, in Lind’s telling, the fort’s commander, William Barret Travis, is the primary hero. Ellen Kaufman, writing in the Library Journal, noted that, “as the action picks up…, so does the writing.” A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the book as a “masterly 6000-line narrative epic."
Bluebonnet Girl, published in 2003 and illustrated by Kate Kiesler, is a retelling of the Texas bluebonnet legend of the Comanche Indians in verse. The story opens in the middle of a drought. Told by Spirit Talker that there is no rain because of the nation’s greed, the people are instructed to throw their prized possession into the fire. However, the people cannot part with their possessions and leave the fire ring. Eventually, a young girl returns at night and throws her doll into the fire, and rain comes the next morning, making the plains blossom with bluebonnets. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that “all readers will find it to be a satisfying story of the origin of the Texas bluebonnet.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that “this retelling has much to offer.”
In What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President, the author delves into the origins of Lincoln’s beliefs about politics and society in the United States. The author notes that Lincoln modeled himself largely after Henry Clay, a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who favored trade protectionism and a government that was pro-industrialist. The author remains provocative as he states that Lincoln was also a white supremacist. “Lind is most interesting and convincing in his long discussion of Lincoln’s place in the history of American’s emerging racial attitudes,” commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Writing in Kliatt, John Rosser noted that the author “has provided a scholarly work on the subject, one that makes use of a wide repertoire of primary and secondary sources, a work that both synthesizes previous interpretations and provides the author’s own argument.”
Lind returns to a more current topic in The American Way of Strategy, which presents the author’s concerns about an erosion of civil liberties in the United States related to the country’s new outlook in foreign policy. Primarily, the author examines how an emphasis on global dominance as a primary strategy of the United States is an anomaly that threatens the American way of life. To make his case and to provide his thoughts on how U.S. foreign policy should be conducted, the author examines the country’s history of foreign policy. “This is a finely composed and extremely timely exposition on American grand strategy,” wrote F.G. Hoffman in the Naval War College Review. Foreign Affairs contributor Walter Russell Meade commented that the author’s “insistence that U.S. history is an indispensable guide for American strategy is a point well worth making.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lind, Michael, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution, Free Press (New York, NY), 1995.
American Prospect, January 31, 2000, Ronnie Dugger, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict, p. 52; December 3, 2001, Richard D. Kahlenberg, review of The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, pp. 41-44.
Atlantic Monthly, April, 2000, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 130; April, 2000, John Lewis Gaddis, “Were the Hawks Right about the Vietnam War?,” p. 4.
Booklist, August, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Up from Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America, p. 1862; September 1, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Powertown, p. 62; March 1, 1997, Ray Olson, review of The Alamo: An Epic, p. 1106; September 1, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 65; September 1, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of The Radical Center, p. 22; March 15, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Bluebonnet Girl, p. 1328; April 1, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President, p. 1339.
Books & Culture, January 1, 2006, Allen Guelzo, “Two Cheers for Lincoln,” review of What Lincoln Believed, p. 30.
Christian Century, October 15, 1997, Sarah J. Fodor, review of The Alamo, p. 921.
Commentary, October, 2001, Daniel Casse, review of The Radical Center, p. 86; February, 2003, Gary Rosen, “Lone Star,” pp. 59-61.
Commonweal, January 11, 2002, Julia Vitullo-Martin, “Are the Parties Over?,” p. 23.
Economist, December 6, 1997, review of Hamilton’s Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition, p. 95; January 18, 2003, “The Sphinx in the White House; George Bush.”
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 1998, David C. Hendrickson, review of Hamilton’s Republic, p. 150; March-April, 2007, Walter Russell Meade, review of The American Way of Strategy, p. 169.
Insight on the News, April 3, 2000, Michael Rust, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of The Radical Center, p. 1089; March 1, 2003, review of Bluebonnet Girl, p. 390; March 1, 2005, review of What Lincoln Believed, p. 276.
Kliatt, July, 2006, John Rosser, review of What Lincoln Believed, p. 32.
Library Journal, May 1, 1997, Ellen Kaufman, review of The Alamo, p. 107; January, 1998, Stephen Shaw, review of Hamilton’s Republic, p. 120; October 1, 1999, Mel D. Lane, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 110 August, 2001, Heath Ma-dom, review of The Radical Center, p. 137.
Nation, May 8, 2000, Richard Falk, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 39.
National Catholic Reporter, October 7, 2005, Wayne A. Holts, “Seeing Lincoln for Who He Was,” review of What Lincoln Believed, p. 14.
National Review, September 2, 1996, Florence King, review of Powertown, p. 91; September 2, 1996, Richard Brookhiser, review of Up from Conservatism, p. 89; June 16, 1997, James Bowman, review of The Alamo, p. 54.
Naval War College Review, spring, 2007, F.G. Hoffman, review of The American Way of Strategy.
New Leader, March 24, 1997, Robert McDowell, review of The Alamo, p. 17.
New York Review of Books, October 5, 1995, Alan Ryan, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution, pp. 30-34.
New York Times, July 5, 1995, Richard Bernstein, review of The Next American Nation, p. C14; June 22, 1997, “Don’t View Vietnam through a Political Prism”; October 20, 1999, Richard Bernstein, “Books of the Times; A Score Card for Vietnam: It Was Johnson 1, Nixon 0.”
New York Times Book Review, June 25, 1995, Christopher Hitchens, review of The Next American Nation, p. 7; April 4, 1999, “The Religion of Art.”
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2000, Robert Jervis, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 123.
Progressive, October, 1996, Harvey J. Kaye, review of Up from Conservatism, p. 42.
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 1996, review of Up from Conservatism, p. 56; July 29, 1996, review of Powertown, p. 70; March 31, 1997, review of The Alamo, p. 71; September 6, 1999, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 88; January 6, 2003, review of Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, p. 54; March 31, 2003, review of Bluebonnet Girl, p. 67; February 21, 2005, review of What Lincoln Believed, p. 163; August 7, 2006, review of The American Way of Strategy, p. 48.
Reason, January, 1997, John J. Pitney, review of Powertown, p. 64.
School Library Journal, April, 2003, Nina Lindsay, review of Bluebonnet Girl, p. 152.
Social Policy, summer, 2002, Paul McCleary, “Politics, Policy & Paranoia,” pp. 60-65.
Time, October 7, 1996, James Collins, review of Powertown, p. 96.
Vietnam, June, 2000, Michael D. Hull and Marc D. Bornstein, “A Provocative New Study of the Vietnam War Places It in the Larger Context of the Global Conflict,” p. 52,
Washington Monthly, September, 1996, Todd Gitlin, review of Up from Conservatism, p. 46; November, 1999, Gregg Easterbrook, review of Vietnam, the Necessary War, p. 42; September, 2001, Bruce Reed, review of The Radical Center, p. 45.
Buzzflash,http://www.buzzflash.com/ (March 20, 2003), interview with Michael Lind.
Globalist,http://www.theglobalist.com/ (December 11, 2007), brief biography of author.
New America Foundation Web site,http://www.newamerica.net/ (November 14, 2003), biography of Michael Lind.*