The day in late 1981 on which Hilton Kramer decided to proceed with The New Criterion was one of the saddest of my life.
Earlier that year, my father had passed away. Not long after, my father’s parents, both in their nineties, died within the same week. Dressed in black, I came directly from the last funeral at the cemetery on Long Island to a meeting with Hilton that could not be postponed.
I was representing the Smith Richardson Foundation. Also there, more suitably attired, were Michael S. Joyce, executive director of the John M. Olin Foundation, and Irving Kristol, in his customary capacity as an intellectual matchmaker.
Along with other donors, the two foundations had given large sums to many of the organizations and scholars whose works were beginning to bear fruit in the policies of the recently elected Reagan administration. But they also understood what Daniel Patrick...