Gertrude Himmelfarb, Conservative Historian of Ideas, Dies at 97

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, Gertrude Himmelfarb

Gertrude Himmelfarb, a historian of ideas who applied cool intelligence and elegant writing to making the case that Victorian-era morals should invigorate contemporary social policies, died on Monday night at her home in Washington. She was 97.

Her son, the writer and commentator William Kristol, said the cause was congestive heart failure.

As a historian and author, Ms. Himmelfarb commanded respect for her meticulous, often surprising scholarship, which was grounded in political, literary and personal sources. As a public intellectual, she became a heroine to conservatives and a bête noire of liberals, particularly for her arguments that a little more virtuousness trumps any number of government social programs.

Ms. Himmelfarb was long married to Irving Kristol, who was often called the godfather of neoconservatism, and her histories coalesced with his journalistic polemics to make them, as a couple, a double-barreled force as the United States became more conservative in the 1970s and ’80s.

“In their good-natured way, they have probably done more to move the center of Republican politics rightward than any Republican politician now active,” Jacob Weisberg wrote in The New Yorker in 1996.

Read entire article at NY Times

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