The Heritage Foundation was created to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." Though the popularity of political conservatism has ebbed and flowed over the past 25 years, the influence of Heritage has remained constant since its inception in 1973. Their most notable and far-reaching achievement thus far is the "Mandate for Leadership" that was embraced by the Reagan administration as a legislative guideline; a document in which, as William E. Simon proudly states in the book's foreword, "some 60 percent of its recommendations were eventually adopted or implemented..." Evidence of their more recent influence was revealed in the Heritage-sponsored training session that was attended by most incoming Republican freshman following the 1994 congressional elections.
The policy recommendations supplied by Heritage's analysts are primarily aimed at Republican members of Congress, making the foundation as much a lobbying group as a think tank. Much of their role (as with many think tanks) is to summarize vast amounts of research and the finer points of pending legislation into manageable portions that can be of use to both politicians and like-minded pundits. On this front, the foundation has been prolific, boasting a list of contributing writers and lecturers that reads like a who's who list of conservative politicians and intellectuals from around the world. An authorized history, The Power of Ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 Years is a celebratory scrapbook of former presidents, building locations, contributors (of both ideas and money), and staff members past and present. Edwards, a historian and author of the Barry Goldwater biography, Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution, borders on hagiography in his treatment of prominent Heritage members, but his inside access and keen eye make his book the definitive guide to this conservative bulwark.
This history is the product of some fourteen months of intensive research, interviewing, writing, and rewriting. I conducted over 125 interviews with foundation employees, trustees, supporters, and alumni; with think-tank presidents, journalists, members of Congress, and congressional staffs. I traveled to New York, Connecticut, Florida, California, and Illinois for these interviews and to examinerecords and correspondence. My one major regret is that I did not have time for more research, but the fast-approaching deadline of Heritage's twenty-fifth anniversary did not allow it.
As Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought, Lee Edwards, Ph.D., is Heritage's in-house authority on the U.S. conservative movement.
A leading historian of American conservatism, Edwards is the author or editor of 20 books, including biographies of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater and Edwin Meese III as well as histories of The Heritage Foundation and the movement as a whole.
Edwards also is chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which dedicated the Victims of Communism Memorial in 2007 and launched the online Global Museum on Communism in 2009.
Edwards is an adjunct professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. He was the founding director of the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Edwards is a past president of the Philadelphia Society and a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.
His works have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and French. His next book, a biography of William F. Buckley Jr., is due from ISI Books in spring 2010.
Edwards appears frequently on cable and broadcast outlets such as Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, NBC, PBS, C-SPAN and NPR. He has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, National Review, Human Events and American Spectator.
Among his awards and honors are the Millennium Star of Lithuania, the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia, the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy from the Republic of China (Taiwan), the John Ashbrook Award, the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award and the Walter Judd Freedom Award.
Edwards earned a doctorate in world politics from the Catholic University of America. He has a bachelor of arts degree in English from Duke University and did graduate work at The Sorbonne, Paris. He received an honorary doctoral degree in humane letters from Grove City College.