"Never (that I know) has a single lifetime borne such literary and philosophical fruit," William F. Buckley Jr. has observed of Norman Podhoretz's career. Named editor of Commentary magazine in 1960 at the age of thirty, Podhoretz built the erudite small journal into the nation's most important organ of political, social, and literary criticism. During his thirty-five-year editorship, Commentary became famous for its bold, lucid essays by America's most perspicacious academics and intellectuals. Most of all, it embodied a profound intellectual shift: Following an initial period of enthusiasm for radical politics, Commentary, in league with the Public Interest, led, shaped, and gave voice to the neoconservative revolution whose political consequences endure to this day.
Zest for intellectual combat has characterized not only Podhoretz's magazine but his own essays–on literature and literary politics, American foreign policy, Jewish affairs, race relations, and much else–which have appeared in major newspapers, magazines, and journals. He is the author of eight books: Doings and Undoings: The Fifties and After in American Writing (1964); Making It (1968); Breaking Ranks: A Political Memoir (1979); The Present Danger (1980); Why We Were in Vietnam (1982); The Bloody Crossroads: Where Literature and Politics Meet (1986); Ex-Friends (1999); and My Love Affair with America (2000).
The son of Jewish immigrants, Norman Podhoretz was born in 1930 and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. He attended Columbia University on a Pulitzer scholarship and, following graduation in 1950, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Cambridge University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and a Kellett Fellow. He also holds a bachelor's degree in Hebrew literature from Jewish Theological Seminary. Between 1953 and 1955, he served in the U.S. Army, mainly as an enlisted man in the Army Security Agency, and then worked as a freelance writer and in a succession of editing and publishing jobs in the late 1950s.
Following his retirement as Commentary's editor in chief in 1995, Podhoretz has been a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and editor at large at Commentary. He continues to write and lecture prolifically and is currently working on his ninth book, a study of Biblical prophets of ancient Israel and what they have to say to us today. It is scheduled for publication by the Free Press in November 2002.
Podhoretz and his wife, the author, editor, and social critic Midge Decter, live in New York City. They have four children and ten grandchildren. The Francis Boyer Award, awarded by AEI's Council of Academic Advisers since 1977, recognizes individuals who have made exceptional practical or scholarly contributions to improved government policy and social welfare. It was established by SmithKline in memory of Francis Boyer, a former chief executive of the firm and distinguished business leader for many years.