Decter’s incisive writing on a range of topics has proven invaluable to the conservative movement. A former editor at Basic Books, her writing has graced the pages of Commentary, First Things, Harper’s and a number of other publications. Her books include The New Chastity, Liberal Parents, Radical Children. and the recent Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait. A Senior Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York City, Decter previously served as Executive Director of the Committee for a Free World, a powerful voice for anti-communism that she voluntarily disbanded after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Soviet communism.
She was born Midge Rosenthal on July 25, 1927, one of three daughters of Harry and Rose (Calmenson) Rosenthal, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father owned a sporting goods store in which Midge helped as a clerk. She dreamed of becoming a writer as a young child; as a student at Central High School in St. Paul, she worked on the literary magazine. After high school, however, she stopped relying upon traditional educational venues for writing experience. She studied for one year at the University of Minnesota, then transferred to New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary for two years, and later briefly attended New York University, but she never received a college degree.
Instead, she married Jewish activist Moshe Decter on September 7, 1947, and had two daughters before the marriage ended in divorce in 1954. After 1948, Decter began a career in publishing, working as secretary to the managing editor of Commentary, the journal published by the American Jewish Committee. On October 21, 1956, Decter married Norman Podhoretz, future managing editor of Commentary, and had two more children, a girl and a boy.