It would be difficult to express how much impact this book had on me as I read. As numerous reviewers stated, it is not an easy read. I had to reread numerous paragraphs and sections. But his post WWII analysis of cultural decline was worth the time. Another reviewer mentioned his tight prose, which I also enjoyed. Not a wasted word. As I read, I did not just think about our cultural decline, but I thought about my family, my church, and my own life. I felt rebuked for my slovenly thinking and my own laziness of life.
The chapter on “Distinction and Hierarchy” as well as his chapter on “Spoiled Child Psychology” effectively diagnosed two of the greatest diseases of our age: egalitarianism and the victim mentality that pervades American culture.
Throughout the book he notes that moral relativism, the loss of overarching truth, is what is wrong with the death of the West. He saw all of this in 1948. The book is great reminder that the West did not start dying in the sixties, as so many conservatives would like us to believe. She was diseased long before that.
His analysis of the effects of WWII on the West was interesting. I am sure when he wrote the book it sounded a bit over the top. Sixty years later it sounds like he had a time machine that transported him to 2000.
He felt that the last place the West could still be won was in the retention of private property. He calls it “The Last Metaphysical Right.” He urged his readers to take a stand at exactly this point. If private property is lost then there is no hope. If he was right we are in a lot of trouble.
Finally, the last section of his chapter “The Power of the Word” is a critique of education at the time and an apologetic for classical education and poetry as part of the remedy for our disease.
A great book!