I am an inveterate reader of ex-communist memoirs—from Benjamin Gitlow’s The Whole of Their Lives to the more well-known Witness by Whittaker Chambers—for reasons that are uncomfortably akin to voyeurism. The prospect of entering a subterranean world known only to its inhabitants, with its obscure rituals and secret handshakes, is inherently thrilling to those of us with a taste for ideological hegiras told in the first person. And so I approached Scott McConnell’s Ex-Neocon anticipating a juicy morsel indeed. After all, the neocons, unlike the communists, have left an indelible imprint on our contemporary world, as even a casual glance at the smoking ruins of the Middle East will confirm. And yet I found something quite different—and far more satisfying.
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