Terry Teachout is the drama critic for The Wall Street Journal and the critic-at-large for Commentary. He has written biographies of Louis Armstrong, George Balanchine, Duke Ellington, and H. L. Mencken; the liberty for three operas by Paul Moravec; and a play, Satchmo at the Waldorf.


The Intellectual’s Bargain

In 1967 Norman Podhoretz published Making It, the story of how a “filthy little slum child” (as one of Podhoretz’s schoolteachers called him) from darkest Brooklyn grew up to be the editor of a prominent magazine of opinion and a member in good standing of the second generation of writers who long ago came to be known as the “New York intellectuals.” It is a book about the pursuit of ambition, a study of how certain Americans transform themselves in order to get ahead in the world, and how, once upon a time, many of them steadfastly preferred not to admit their ambitions, even to themselves.