Found in a second-hand bookshop

Posted by Helen Thursday, August 27, 2009 , , ,

There are only three second-hand bookshops left in Charing Cross Road, though there are a few more in Cecil Court that leads from that road to St Martin's Lane. This is a grave problem for those of us who are addicted to second-hand books and the shops that house them. I hate to have to admit to it but buying them on the net without the happenstance aspect to the whole procedure is not the same.

Still, there is Any Amount of Books, open most days till 9.30 in the evening, somewhat ramshackle inside and with boxes of cheaper paperbacks outside.

Browsing through its shelves one evening I came across a completely new copy of a recently published book, The Conservative Turn by Michael Kimmage, a dual biography and analysis of the role of two of my great heroes: Lionel Trilling and Whittaker Chambers.

Professor Kimmage follows the two careers from their differing childhoods, joint time at Columbia University and subsequent divergence - Trilling into liberal academia, Chambers into Communist espionage, then journalism and the notoriety of the Hiss case.

Between them these two people, argues Professor Kimmage, created the conservative intellectual atmosphere that is still present in the United States, despite the odd political aberration; Trilling by turning liberalism away from support of Communism and Chambers by laying the foundation of modern conservatism.

I am still in the early stages of the book but I shall be interested to see how the author argues that liberalism has remained the middle of the road, anti-Communist movement that Trilling had fostered. Reports on the book to follow.


  1. Simon Harley Says:
  2. Which three shops, TH? Exclusively second-hand, do you mean (Henry Pordes has done a mix of new and second hand for as long as I can remember, i.e. since 1996).

    While cruising the second-hand bookstores of New England last month I picked up "Thomas E. Dewey and his Times", who tried to take a brand of progressive conservatism to the White House in the 1940s. Reading about American politicians never ceases to make me think how strangely petty British political infighting can seem. I recommend the book (and the man) to Tory Historian.

  3. Thank you Simon. Dewey is certainly of great interest. I shall look out for the book.

    Henry Pordes is one of the bookshops on Charing Cross Road. The stock is a mixture but there are enough second hand books to delight afficionados. Then there is Any Amount of Books, which is exclusively second-hand and one more, opposite Leicester Square Station, which is now a mixture of rather expensive antiquarian and second-hand, the latter being down in the basement.

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