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Reinhold Niebuhr and Contemporary Politics$
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Richard Harries and Stephen Platten

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571833

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571833.001.0001

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On Recent Political Uses of Reinhold Niebuhr

On Recent Political Uses of Reinhold Niebuhr

Toward a New Appreciation of his Legacy

Chapter:
(p.18) 2 On Recent Political Uses of Reinhold Niebuhr
Source:
Reinhold Niebuhr and Contemporary Politics
Author(s):

Mac McCorkle

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571833.003.0003

This chapter looks at how Niebuhr has been variously interpreted. It focuses on two representative writers — former New Republic editor Peter Beinart and historian David Chappell. Their efforts range widely and impressively beyond a focus on Niebuhr. But both fit the mould of public intellectuals who desire to reconstruct a ‘usable’ Niebuhrian legacy for our times. Their common flaw is to claim a more or less perfect Niebuhr from one stage of his intellectual career. While Chappell celebrates the radical 1930s Niebuhr of MoralMan and Immoral Society, Beinart champions the Cold War Niebuhr found in such 1950s works as The Irony of American History. In effect, their accounts serve as critiques of each other's portraits.

Keywords:   Reinhold Niebuhr, Peter Beinart, David Chappell

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