on the ncoconservative payroll will disagree.rnThe history of this “movement,”rnin the final analysis, is a history of opportunism:rnof leftists, that is, who usedrntheir elout with the major media to formrna very profitable alliance with the corporaternelites. At the very moment that thernAmerican economy was deteriorating atrnits base, the American social fabric wasrnunraveling, and the American middlernclass was threatened by decimation, thernneoconservatives formulated an abstractrndemocratic capitalism that appealed,rnwith plenty of well-funded publicity, tornsome of the more superficial aspects ofrnthe public discontent.rnThough Dorrien seems to believernthat, despite all, the neoconservatives arernin a position to offer powerful oppositionrnto the “reconstructed progressive politics”rnfor which he hopes, I am inclined torndisagree. Their moment, I believe, willrnnot be prolonged—the ever-changingrntides have shifted. The neoconservativesrnmay well ride out the next big wave,rnbut it will be in some other athletic guisernthan that to which we are accustomed,rnand in the long perspective of historyrnthev vvill rate but a footnote.rnClyde Wilson has observed neocons—rnfrom a prudent distance—for a longrntime. He is a professor of Americanrnhistory at the University of SouthrnCarolina and the editor of The Papersrnof John C. Calhoun.rnArtist of the Wildrnby Gregory McNameernAudubon: Life and Art in thernAmerican Wildernessrnby Shirley StreshinskyrnNew York: Villard Books;rn407 pp., $25.00rnThe frontiers of the world breedrnmany men of John Audubon’s ilk:rnfootloose, intemperate, experimental, inrncjuestionable standing with the law. I lernis better known todav for the conservationrnsociety that bears his name—arngroup that began as a birdwatching organizationrnand evolved into a powerfulrnlobbying force—than for his singularrncontributions to American science, andrnhe is remembered as something of arnbackwoods nobleman rather than, atrnleast in many of his ventures, as a nearlyrndestitute failure.rnIn her life of the much-documentedrnartist, historian, and novelist ShirleyrnStreshinsky aims to layer blood and fleshrnon a man shrouded by romantic mysteryrn(much of it created by Audubon himself).rnShe is particularly successful inrngathering the facts about the youngrnAudubon, the well-traveled but somewhatrnwild son of a French career naval officerrnwho found his life’s calling in thernpages of Buffon’s lUstoire Naturellern(someone, someday, will write a historyrnof that massive work, which in its way wasrnas influential as Das Kapital) and in thernlife studies by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, whorntook pains to depict animals as they appearedrnin nature, rather than as staticrnmodels adorning Doric columns as wasrnthe fashion of the dav. Until his 11thrnyear John James—or, rather, Jean Rabin,rnhis birthname—had the freedom of thernwoods and fields, before his father, sensingrnthat the boy needed discipline, impressedrnhim into service as a cabin boy.rnThe younger Audubon had little talentrnfor the military arts, and he failed thernentrance exam for admission to the regularrnnavy. I hs obliging father, who mustrnhave been a rarity, allowed him to returnrnto a state of nature, so to speak, untilrnhe reached the age of 17, whereuponrnJean Rabin was sent to America to attendrnto the elder Audubon’s business interests.rnJean Rabin’s departure was madernall the more hasty by Napoleon’s rise tornpower and the new imperial army’s needrnfor conscripts to make the long trek tornMoscow, and he soon found himself notrnfar from New York Citv, ostensibly managingrna lead mine.rnThis was the first time John James, asrnhe now called himself, failed financiallyrnin the New World; it would not be thernlast. His is the familiar tale of naiveternmatched with an unscrupulous businessrnpartner; in any case the young man spentrnhis days wandering abroad with gun andrneasel, shooting and then painting therngreat American aviary that lay beforernhim.rnWhen the United States declared warrnon Great Britain in 1812, the newly wedrnAudubon traveled to Philadelphia tornswear allegiance to his adoptive country,rnthen quit the seaboard to found arntrading post and small farm on the otherrnsde of the Appalachians. “Lucv andrnJohn Audubon,” Streshinsky notes, “tookrnno stand against the institution of slavery;rnin 1814 they bought nine blacks….”rnAudubon enjoyed married life, but hernyearned to head for the deeper woods.rnStreshinsky does not make enough of hisrnwanderlust, which seems unusually pronouncedrneven for so mobile a society asrnthat in which he lived.rnIndeed, Streshinsky does not pay sufficientrnattention to frontier life generallyrnand especially to such cruel realities asrnthose John Mack Faragher has describedrnin his life of Daniel Boone, to whomrnAudubon has so often been compared.rnThe American West was the realm notrnof proud Hawkeyes but of often murderousrnrefugees from east of the FallrnLine, a nesting ground for disenfranchisedrnBorder Scots and revenge-bentrnnatives alike. That Audubon was able tornsurvive in this hard country was a signrnless of his abilities as a frontiersman thanrnof his knowledge of how to skirt trouble,rnhow to stay a mile ahead of pursuingrncreditors. That Audubon should eventuallyrnquit the frontier for city life was inevitable:rnhe wandered his share of trailsrnwhile cultivating an image with everyrnstep he took.rnIn early middle age John James electedrnto divide his time between a townhousernin New Orleans, where he couldrnpaint likenesses of society ladies and tutorrnyoungsters in art and French, and thernbayous of the Mississippi delta. The arrangementrnseems to have worked wellrnenough, for although the Audubonsrnwere in constant danger of penury hernwas somehow still able to complete thernwork for, and sec to the publication of,rnhis monumental Birds of America. (‘lbrncoincide with Streshinsky’s biography,rnVillard Books has issued an edition ofrnthat great work at the quite reasonablernprice of $75.00.) Just how much time hernwas now spending in the field is anyone’srnguess, although his study of arnmockingbird imperiled by a tree-climbingrnrattlesnake suggests that he was notrnabove inventing incidents. Ilerpetologistsrnwill tell you that rattlesnakes cannotrnclimb beyond their body length, andrnAudubon immediately came under criticismrnfor the painting.rnBirds of America, Streshinsky notes,rnbrought Audubon European fame, andrnhe sailed off to England to enjoy it. Hernmust have been a sight: a tall, longhaired,rnangular man dressed in buckskinsrnand moccasins on the I ligh Street couldrnnot help but excite attention. He mightrnJANUARY 1994/27rnrnrn