TNC responds:

I think this will be the last time I engage Andrew on this question, mostly because I don't think I can access much more until I've read Strauss, Oakeshott, and Andrew's The Conservative Soul. It shames me that I haven't, and it shames me more that I don't know when I'll be able to.

One of the unfortunate things about being ravaged by some object of my curiosity, is the accompanying inability to think long and hard about anything else.

So for the past year and half, a large section of my brain has been occupied by the Civil War and Detroit. I'll be done with Detroit soon enough (one hopes), but this Civil War thing will be counted in years not months. 

This is why looking at anyone's book-list, or book shelf, and exclaiming "I can't believe you don't have xxxx!!!" will always--always--miss the point. There's too much out there to know. You can't possibly experience it all. For me this is more true. I have to leave space for my own stories, and guard against getting loss in someone else's.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.