22 / CHRONICLESnbility,” but the liberal main line, fornthe most part, chose to interpret Hartfordnas an assault upon the interests ofninstitutionalized liberalism. Similarly,nhe notes that eflForts such as the Institutenon Religion and Democracy,nwhich seek to nurture the connectionsnbetween faith and free society, havenbeen uncritically assailed by an increasinglyndefensive and indeed beleaguerednmain-line Protestantism.nReligion in American Public Life isnnot an optimistic book. It is clearheadednand sobering. It might havenBookman of the RightnPublishing serious conservativenbooks is no way to get rich andnfamous in modern America. Justnask Henry Regnery. In 1947 Regnerynfounded a tiny new publishingncompany over a drugstore in Hinsdale,nIllinois, hoping “to challengenthe governmental and intellectualnestablishment.” At the outset hisnfather warned him: “If you evernbegin to make any money in thatnbusiness . . . you can be prettynsure that you are publishing thenwrong kind of books.” Surenenough, over the next 25 years thenHenry Regnery Company strugglednto stay in the black. Yet, improbably,nthe fledgling firm did managento rattle the powers that be, forcingnupon Ivory Tower professors, NewnYork Times reviewers, and leadingnpoliticians issues they preferred tonignore. As much as anyone, Mr. Regnerynhelped to launch a new conservativenmovement in America.nWith the clarity and grace of anman at home with serious literature,nHenry Regnery recounts thenremarkable story of his life withnbooks in Memoirs of a DissidentnPublisher (Regnery; Chicago). It isnthe story of an eager student ofnmathematics and physics at MITnwho served as a zealous New Dealnadministrator and eventually becamenan articulate critic of technocrahcnscienhsm and arrogant socialnplanning. Henry Regnery grewnfrom the boy who spent his newsstandnearnings to buy the works ofnbeen, it should have been, considerablynmore sobering. It would have beennan even stronger book had Reichleyntaken into account Nietzsche’s morenrelentless critique. That critique suggestsnthat it is not only democraticnsociety but civilization itself that becomesnimpossible when the elites of anculture agree on the abandonment ofntranscendent truth. And Reichleynmight have developed more fully thenirony that religion that is primarilynconcerned about civilization or democracynis of little use to either. AsnREVISIONSnTom Paine into the man who mortgagedna secure future in textiles fornthe chance to publish books likenGod and Man at Yale by an unknownnundergraduate (William F.nBuckley) and The ConservativenMind by an obscure history teachern(Russell Kirk). If ever there were anrefutation of the stereotype of thenconservative as a hidebound andncaleulahng personality, it is HenrynRegnery, whose intellectual evolutionntestifies to a rare openness andnflexibility of mind and whose publishingnrecord is one long list ofndaring gambles thought too risky bynstaid East Coast publishers.nAfter two years of study in Germanynin the I930’s, Regnery begannhis career as a book publisher shortlynafter World War II, with controversialnworks by Victor Gollancz,nHans Rothfels, and Freda Utley opposingnthe vindictive MorgenthaunPlan imposed upon Germany bynthe Allies and exposing its disastrousnhuman consequences. In thenyears that followed, Regnery keptnthe political fires burning with revisionistnhistories of World War II,nwith exposes of corruption in thenTruman Administration, and withnattacks upon Zionism and the UnitednNadons. After helping the postwarnconservative movement find itsnfeet, Regnery allowed WilliamnBuckley, Brent Bozell, JamesonnCampaigne, Frank Meyer, and othersnto thrash out the conservativenpolitical and economic agenda onnhis presses.nRegnery deserves praise for hisnnnone of its authors, I believe that wasnthe deeper argument in the HartfordnAppeal. And, of course, Reichleynmight have and maybe should havendone a lot of other things. But what henhas done in this book is so very goodnthat I will not dwell on its omissions.nNor will I—although, as mentionednat the outset, it is undoubtedly possiblen—praise the book too highly. To saynthat it is a superb treatment of annincreasingly important subject is, itnseems to me, to say it just right. ccncontribution to a healthy politicalnferment. He deserves even morenpraise for refusing to dedicate hisnlife to polihcal passions—a fate thatnhas befallen more than one conservative.nOne of Regnery’s first booksnwas a philosophical examination ofnthe medieval conception of spacenand spirit by Edmund Whittaker.nLater came important religiousnworks by Louis Bouyer, Paul Clandel,nand Romano Guardini andnworks of philosophy by Martin Heidegger,nGabriel Marcel, and KarlnJaspers. Regnery’s contribution tonliterature included important booksnby Roy Campbell, WyndhamnLewis, and Ezra Pound, publishednat a time when the right-wing politicsnof these writers scared off manynother publishers. Regnery alsonbrought out a landmark study bynRussell Kirk on the poetry of T.S.nEliot. Eliot took a personal interestnin the Chicago-based publisher andnadvised him on a number of hisnundertakings.nIf there can be any irony in suchna life or such a book, it may lie innthe preface by Ronald Reagan, anman once thought unelectable. Butnin the middle of the conservativentriumph, it is not at all clear that itnis the high moral purpose of GabrielnMarcel and T.S. Eliot whichnreigns triumphant. Sometimes it almostnseems as if Irving Babbitt isnbeing replaced by George (no relation)nin the conservahve pantheon.nIf that does not happen, part of thencredit will be due to the efforts of andissident publisher. (BC) ccn