In This Review

Reinhold Niebuhr: A Biography
Reinhold Niebuhr: A Biography
By Richard Wightman Fox
Pantheon, 1985, 340 pp

Theologian and activist Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) attacked utopian idealism as dangerously inappropriate in foreign policy and called on Americans to understand the tragic necessity of using violence in pursuit of international justice. He had a greater influence on the American approach to the world in mid-twentieth century than any other philosopher. Here is an intellectual biography worthy of the man. Fox describes Niebuhr's awesome energy and commitment to using theological insights to shape public policy, but he does not flinch from honest criticism of Niebuhr's inconsistencies, oversimplifications, and a tendency to let the quantity of his writing and speaking get in the way of quality.