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US political writer Irving Kristol dead at 89

Irving Kristol, the political writer and publisher known as the godfather of American neoconservatism whose youthful radicalism evolved into an emphatic rejection of communism and the counterculture, has died. He was 89.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2009 19:01 IST

Irving Kristol, the political writer and publisher known as the godfather of American neoconservatism whose youthful radicalism evolved into an emphatic rejection of communism and the counterculture, has died. He was 89.

"His wisdom, wit, good humour and generosity of spirit made him a friend and mentor to several generations of thinkers and public servants," said the editors of The Weekly Standard in announcing Kristol's death on its Website yesterday. He died of complications from lung cancer.

Kristol was the husband of critic-historian Gertrude Himmelfarb and father of neo-conservative editor and commentator William Kristol, an editor of The Weekly Standard.

A Trotskyist in the 1930s, Kristol would soon sour on socialism, break from liberalism after the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and in the 1970s commit the unthinkable for him: support the Republican Party, once as "foreign to me as attending a Catholic mass."

He was a New York intellectual who left home, first politically, then physically, moving to Washington in 1988. He was a liberal "mugged by reality", his turn to the right joined by countless others, including such future Republican Cabinet officials as Jeane Kirkpatrick and William Bennett and another neoconservative founder, Norman Podhoretz.

"The influence of Irving Kristol's ideas has been one of the most important factors in reshaping the American climate of opinion over the past 40 years," Podhoretz said.