John Willson

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The Loss and Recovery of Truth
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The Loss and Recovery of Truth

“Philosophy of history is a concept coined by Voltaire,” Gerhart Niemeyer said to me in the spring of 1977, repeating the first sentence of his lecture, “The Loss and Recovery of History,” delivered at a Hillsdale College seminar a few

The Chief and His Men
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The Chief and His Men

On June 1, 1945, Pope Pius XII met for three hours in private audience with his co-conspirator, the German lawyer Josef Müller.  “I had hardly crossed the threshold into his study when the Holy Father approached me, and embraced me,”

His Land, His People
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His Land, His People

“Dickinson was, in truth,” writes William Murchison,

as much philosopher as writer, a man to whom God had imparted the gifts not merely of expression but also of examination and reflection.  Among the large fraternity active in the cause of

The Person Is Always Becoming
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The Person Is Always Becoming

Everyone in the Western world writes from left to right, so Michael Novak’s title is more cute than revealing.  The subtitle, on the other hand, makes a claim: that he moved from at one point in his life being a

Out and About
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Out and About

The American Empire has been on the minds of at least some conservatives for about two decades, ever since the sudden collapse of the Soviet Empire caught us all by surprise.  It isn’t that Americans haven’t argued about empire before:

A Difficult Decade
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A Difficult Decade

James Patterson’s controlling idea is that the 60’s became the 60’s in 1965, and that this represented an “Eve of Destruction.”  One struggles for about 300 pages trying to find out . . . destruction of what?

The title

J. Evetts Haley, American Cato
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J. Evetts Haley, American Cato

According to family records, ten of Great-Grandma’s

twelve sons died in the Civil War.

 

Thus it was that Allie Johnson Puett, the girl who became my Grandma Evetts, learned the lessons of self reliance, the duty of the defiance of

The End of a Myth
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The End of a Myth

“Economy, n.  Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.”
—Ambrose Bierce

 

“That was the summer of seventy-three,” writes Forrest McDonald.  “Remember it well, and cherish the memory,

Thornton Wilder’s Depression
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Thornton Wilder’s Depression

Thornton Wilder met Sigmund Freud in the fall of 1935.  Freud had read Wilder’s new novel, Heaven’s My Destination.  “‘No seeker after God,’” writes Wilder’s biographer (quoting Freud of himself), “he threw it across the room.”  At a later

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Peter Stanlis, R.I.P.

Peter Stanlis sometimes seemed stiff and formal; and he was, because he practiced his whole life the arts of a gentleman.  This required a certain reserve, but one that never covered heavily the kindness of his Christian nature.  Part of

A Life Rediscovered
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A Life Rediscovered

ISI Books, the publishing arm of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, is doing a great service by putting out the Lives of the Founders series, emphasizing “important but unjustly neglected figures of the American Founding.”  Leaving aside for a moment the

Academic Sins
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Academic Sins

Frank: “They threw me out for plagiarizing.”

Ernest: “You were stealing songs?”

Frank: “No, I was taking notes.”

—from a Frank and Ernest cartoon
(Frank has been expelled from music school)

 

A graduate student asked if he could take a

Bear
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Bear

We were driving back to Michigan after a conference on Herbert Hoover that I had organized for the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, in 1984.  After you get past Hammond and Gary, Indiana is flat but quite nice. 

Immigration: A History Lesson
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Immigration: A History Lesson

“The United States is a nation of immigrants” is a meaningless statement, but that is not to say that it has no meaning.  It is one of the lead lines for the Democratic/liberal/progressive agenda, and has been ever since Israel

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It’s the Jobs

Which presidents of the United States have done a job of work?  This little survey is limited to those born in the 20th century.  Before that, everybody worked.

Let’s start with our present leader.  He has never lifted a shovel

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Adams’ Federalism

In 1786, John Adams wrote in his diary that a friend, “lamenting the differences of character between Virginia and New England,” welcomed from Adams a recipe for a Chesapeake makeover: “I recommended to him town meetings, training days, town schools,

City Mouse, Country Mouse
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City Mouse, Country Mouse

We whose parents read to us the Bible, the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, Hans Christian Anderson, Reynard the Fox, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Aesop’s Fables know almost by heart the story of “The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse.”  This

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Frummie’s Song

Frummie and his friends were beside themselves a few months ago over the nerve of Vanity Fair.  It quoted them!  And they were surprised that Vanity Fair was . . . unfair.  “Out of context!  Out of context!”  Context,

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Umpires

Mike Carey was the first “African-American” to head a crew that refereed a Super Bowl—the one in which the sainted Tom Brady got his butt kicked by the lowly Giants.  The term African-American offends me, and should offend all patriots,

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The Ultimate Insider

Who are the spear-carriers of government policies? This is a tale that puts pieces together over the course of a few decades. Neocons eat stories like this for breakfast.

Like most teachers, I have learned at least as much from …

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The Ultimate Insider

Who are the spear-carriers of government policies?  This is a tale that puts pieces together over the course of a few decades.  Neocons eat stories like this for breakfast.

Like most teachers, I have learned at least as much from

He Got Them First
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He Got Them First

“Traitors’ words ne’er yet hurt honest cause.”

—Scottish Proverb

The destruction of Sen. Joe McCar­thy, says M. Stanton Evans, was never about what he did:

The real issue has always been the larger question of what happened to America—and

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Who Votes Catholic?

Quite a few years ago (1977, to be exact), a colleague tried to convince me that the best way to make our college conservative was to set up a curriculum and a program in Christian studies that would appeal to

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A National Championship for Duke

Probably, we should drop the whole Dukie mess.  After killing enough trees to paper over the Western world and using up enough nonrenewable energy to fight at least a little war someplace, nothing has changed in the Research Triangle.  Duke

The Gospel That Nobody Knows
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The Gospel That Nobody Knows

“Out of the sacred space the sacred text would grow,” says Mr. Boritt.  He’s right; those of us who grew up as Yankees know in our bones that our country is sacred ground.  I took my wife to Gettysburg on

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Memories of Mr. Lytle

Almost nobody thinks that Yankees can possibly understand agrarians.  But one of the great pleasures in my life is that I was, at least at one time or another, Mel Bradford’s favorite Yankee.  And because Mel introduced me with great

Our Little Brown Brothers
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Our Little Brown Brothers

The History Book Club has done us a good service by reprinting Leon Wolff’s Little Brown Brother, published originally in 1960, before we had learned to be politically correct or had figured out that we were building an empire.  In

There Once Was a New England
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There Once Was a New England

A few years ago, I was talking about Timothy Dwight to an audience of people old enough to appreciate both his Christian orthodoxy and his old-fashioned patriotism.  When I mentioned Dwight’s passion for farming and his devotion to agriculture as

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Thirst for Empire

Tacitus, writing about Caesar Augustus and the beginnings of the Roman Empire, says, “How few were left who had seen the republic!”

How few are left.  Tacitus also mourns that the “State had been revolutionized, and there was not a