The Forgotten Man, cover artKathryn Lopez, editor of National Review Online, is one of the very best interviewers around. Her conversation with former Wall Street Journal writer-editor Amity Shlaes is a fine example of Kathryn’s work. Shlaes’s new book, The Forgotten Man: A History of the Great Depression, published just yesterday, "serves up the Great Depression as you’ve never known it — challenging conventional wisdom, telling a gripping story of the triumph of the American spirit and the folly of big government," as Lopez smartly describes it.

It’s a fascinating interview, and one part of it is especially interesting.

The teaser on the NRO front page sets this up nicely:

Amity Shlaes tells the story of the Great Depression through a classical liberal’s keyboard.

Then, in the body of the interview, the following exchange takes place:

Lopez: Could your book be subtitled The Case for Classical Liberalism?

Shlaes: Yes. Where is it in our lives? I’m a liberal. It was a big error to use the word “liberal” to smear other people with. We’re the liberals! We stand for individualism – U.K.-Whig style. The liberal in this book is Wendell Willkie; as part of his political education, his girlfriend, Irita van Doren, made him write book reviews about Whigs.

And Shlaes says, 

Wendell Willkie was my surprise hero.

Shlaes’ declaration, "We’re the liberalis!" is one with which readers of this site will of course be quite familiar. The true liberals of our time are on the right, and the stubborn, hidebound conservatives are the "progressives" on the left.

I’m delighted to see Kathryn and her interviewee tackling this issue.