George H. Nash
George H. Nash (born April 1, 1945) is an American historian and interpreter of American conservatism. He is a biographer of Herbert Hoover. He is best known for The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 which first appeared in 1976 and has been twice revised and expanded.
Nash graduated from Amherst College in 1967, and received his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 1973. He is an independent scholar who lectures and consults widely. From 1975 to 1995 he lived in Iowa to work at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, where he wrote three volumes of a definitive, scholarly biography commissioned by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association. He did research in hundreds of manuscript collections and archival sources in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Nash published numerous essays on Hoover. Most recently he edited and wrote a long introduction to Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath (2011)
Nash's essays have appeared in the American Spectator, Claremont Review of Books, Intercollegiate Review, Modern Age, National Review, New York Times Book Review, Policy Review, University Bookman, Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. He has lectured at the Library of Congress; the National Archives; the Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson presidential libraries; the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum; the Hoover Institution; the Heritage Foundation; the McConnell Center; and at various universities and conferences in the United States and Europe.
Awards and honors
From 1987 to 1990 Nash served on the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), a federal agency. He has served on the editorial advisory board of Modern Age and is a Senior Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. Since 2004 he has been an Associate of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. From 2006 to 2008 he served as president of the Philadelphia Society. In 2008 he was the recipient of the annual Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters, created by the Ingersoll Foundation. In 2014 he joined the National Advisory Board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation.
Historian Jennifer Burns evaluating The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 said, "It is a rare work of history that remains the authoritative treatment of its subject nearly thirty years after publication, cited by numerous contemporary historians for its content and scholarship rather than as an historiographical curio....Nash's book, based on his Harvard dissertation, has become literally the first and last word on the topic." She adds that it, "achieved this dominance because he was the first historian to cast aside the stale interpretive legacies of the 1950s. By overcoming the inheritance of one generation, he established a powerful legacy for scholars who would follow. Today, his work exerts a deep influence on our common understanding of conservatism in America, an influence that is deserved but nonetheless in need of critical appraisal."
Examining conservative intellectual history, Kim Phillips-Fein writes:
- The most influential synthesis of the subject remains George H. Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Tradition since 1945, first published in 1976. Nash sought to counter the condescension of the consensus scholars who assumed that conservatives had no serious intellectual life. He argued that postwar conservatism brought together three powerful and partially contradictory intellectual currents that previously had largely been independent of each other: libertarianism, traditionalism, and anticommunism. Each particular strain of thought had predecessors earlier in the twentieth (and even nineteenth) centuries, but they were joined in their distinctive postwar formulation through the leadership of William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review. The fusion of these different, competing, and not easily reconciled schools of thought led to the creation, Nash argued, of a coherent modern Right."
Phillips-Fein concludes, "There is, as yet, no work of intellectual history that challenges Nash's synthesis, and it is difficult to overstate the impact that it still has on the field."
Historian Ellis W. Hawley, evaluating the first volume of the Hoover biography in the American Historical Review, says that Nash's descriptive detail ranges from "rich and fascinating" to "excessive and tedious." Hawley concludes:
- "Throughout, the quality of the scholarship, the sifting and use of evidence, the imaginative reconstruction of relevant historical contexts, and the ability to communicate all deserve high marks."
Historian Stanley Shapiro calls the third volume "definitive," saying it belongs to:
- "a special class of scholarly achievements: meticulous in archival research, richly detailed, magisterial in its command of the domestic and international politics of the war period, and always patient and even-handed in judging men and events."
Books and essays written by Nash
- From Radicalism to Revolution: The Political Career of Josiah Quincy (1970)
- The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (1976; 3rd ed. 2006)
- The Life of Herbert Hoover: The Engineer 1874-1914 (Life of Herbert Hoover, Vol. 1) (1983)
- The Life of Herbert Hoover: The Humanitarian, 1914-1917 (Life of Herbert Hoover, Vol. 2) (1988) excerpt and text search
- Herbert Hoover and Stanford University (1988)
- The Life of Herbert Hoover: Master of Emergencies, 1917-1918 (Life of Herbert Hoover, Vol. 3) (1996) excerpt and text search
- "Forgotten godfathers: Premature Jewish conservatives and the rise of National Review," American Jewish History, June/Sept 1999, Vol. 87 Issue 2/3, pp 123–57
- Books and the Founding Fathers ((Library of Congress: Center for the Book, 2007)
- Reappraising the Right: The Past and Future of American Conservatism (2009) excerpt and text search
Books edited by Nash
- co-editor, Province in Rebellion: A Documentary History of the Founding of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1774–1775 (Harvard University Press, 1975)
- Herbert Hoover, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath (Hoover Institution Press, 2011) ISBN 9780817912345
- Herbert Hoover, The Crusade Years, 1933–1955: Herbert Hoover's Lost Memoir of the New Deal Era and Its Aftermath (Hoover Institution Press, 2013) ISBN 0817916741
- Burns, Jennifer. "In Retrospect: George Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945," Reviews in American History 32#3 (2004) pp 447–462 online
- The Russell Kirk Center, "George H. Nash"
- see The Russell Kirk Center, "George H. Nash"
- Jennifer Burns, "In Retrospect: George Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945," Reviews in American History 32#3 (2004) pp 447-462, quote p. 447
- Kim Phillips-Fein, "Conservatism: A State of the Field," Journal of American History, (Dec. 2011) 98#3 pp 723-743, quote p. 729
- Phillips-Fein, "Conservatism: A State of the Field," Journal of American History, p. 730
- Ellis W. Hawley, "Review", American Historical Review, April 1984, Vol. 89 Issue 2, pp 545-6
- Stanley Shapiro, "Feature review: Biography," History: Reviews of New Books, Summer 1996, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p. 189