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Conservatism has enjoyed renewed respectability these past eight years. Now President Reagan, its most eminent spokesman, is about to depart the White House. What better moment to take stock of the things conservative.

In The Conservative Movement (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 140 pp., $18.95), Paul Gottfried and Thomas Fleming trace the evolution of New Right conservatism from 1945 to the present in a concise, though unabashedly sympathetic, guide to the changing conservative landscape.

Two works published by the Washington, D.C.–based Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, Issues '88: A Platform for American Social Policy Planks, edited by Mark Liedl (135 pp., three-volume set, $19.95 paper) and Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (147 pp., $6.95), outline a decidedly conservative social and cultural agenda for the future—from outlawing surrogate motherhood contracts and reestablishing school prayer to strictly enforcing pornography laws and reversing the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Robert Nisbet's Modern Age (New York: Harper & Row, 145 pp., $17.95) provides a well-crafted and fascinating analysis of American government and political philosophy in the 1980s. Long identified as a conservative, Nisbet nonetheless voices trenchant criticisms of modern American conservatism, including a forceful critique of conservative militarism and evangelicism.