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Essays

Original essays

A Place on the Walls Spring 2018
by Sam Burnham
How we decorate tends to communicate more about us to ourselves rather than to others. So the way we decorate our homes can be an important contributor to our well-being.
The Cinema of Failure Spring 2018
by Titus Techera
Four films of Terrence Malick.
Saving What Is Lost Spring 2018
by Maria Grizzetti
A reflection on fashion and the Catholic Imagination inspired by “Heavenly Bodies,” the current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
What Exactly Do We Agree On? Spring 2018
by Micah Meadowcroft
At the Modern Age panel on conservatism after Trump
The Meiji Restoration at 150 Spring 2018
by Jason Morgan
Many in Japan are now looking back and taking stock of just how perilous, and contested, the much-taunted Meiji triumph really was. Morgan looks at popular and academic rethinking of the Meiji era and how this may affect Japan’s self-identity and foreign policy.
Hoffer and the True Believers Spring 2018
by Pedro Blas González
González discusses the contributions of Eric Hoffer, one of twentieth-century philosophy’s only genuinely free spirits, in identifying the self-absorption and moral cancer of modern totalitarians.
Why We Need Liverpool Spring 2018
by William Anthony Hay
Hay invites a reassessment of Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, the long-serving nineteenth-century British Prime Minister.
Who Is Blackford Oakes? Winter 2018
by William F. Meehan III
Meehan introduces or reintroduces readers to the protagonist of William F. Buckley Jr.’s classic Cold War spy novels—an unambiguous good guy.
Trump so Far Winter 2018
by Bruce P. Frohnen
“Any report card on the Trump Presidency must begin by recognizing the great progress he has made in undermining the power and legitimacy of our progressive elites.”
Tomboys and Magic Winter 2018
by Eve Tushnet
The creepy-cozy tales of John Bellairs.
One Hundred Years of Communism Fall 2017
by Francis P. Sempa
Sempa discusses the history, atrocities, and appeal of communism on the hundredth anniversary of the Russian revolution. He recaps books including the Black Book of Communism, the Gulag Archipelago, and The Harvest of Sorrows.
Shining a Light on Dark Deeds Fall 2017
by Ashlee Cowles
The Moral Imagination in the Mystery Novels of Sally Wright
Schiller and the Two Drives of the Person Summer 2017
by Pedro Blas González
González looks at lessons for today's postmodern culture in the German Romantic's On the Aesthetic Education of Man.
Novak’s ‘Moral Clarity’ Revisited Spring 2017
by Francis P. Sempa
Sempa looks back on the arguments and influence of Michael Novak’s influential 1983 essay on nuclear deterrence.
Peter Augustine Lawler, RIP Spring 2017
by Bruce P. Frohnen
Bruce Frohnen helps the Bookman honor and say farewell to a longtime friend, Peter Augustine Lawler (1951–2017).
Wilmer Mills: The Poet as Maker Spring 2017
by Steven Knepper
An introduction to and appreciation of the work of the modern agrarian poet Wilmer Mills (1968–2011).
Roy Campbell: A Poet for Our Time? Winter 2017
by Matthew M. Robare
Robare looks at the work of poet Roy Campbell on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, exploring why he has been blacklisted by the literary establishment and his fight against the elitist snowflakes of his own time.
When Time Was Measured in Decades Winter 2017
by Pedro Blas González
Gonzáles discusses Spanish novelist Miguel Delibes and his 1964 work, Viejas historias de Castilla la Vieja.
The Return of Douglas MacArthur Summer 2016
by Francis P. Sempa
Sempa surveys several recent books showing a revival of interest in the life, career, and wisdom of General Douglas MacArthur.
Notes from a Smaller, Freer Island Summer 2016
by Derek Turner
Novelist Derek Turner reflects on the Brexit vote and its causes, coalitions, and likely aftermath.
Antonin Scalia (1936–2016) Winter 2016
by Stephen B. Presser
Professor Presser offers farewell remarks on the occasion of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and his hopes that the Justice’s principled approach to jurisprudence will yet carry the day.
The Courage of Lewis and Clark Winter 2016
by Pedro Blas González
González reflects on the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to consider their effect on history and their surprisingly effective work in “existential ethnography.”
Schopenhauer and Postmodern Ethical Affectation Fall 2015
by Pedro Blas González
González reminds us of the uncomfortable lessons that the grouch of Danzig could teach our age.
Four Federal Judges Celebrating Poetry at Poets House Fall 2015
by Eugene Schlanger
The Wall Street Poet reflects on a recent evening in New York where four judges extended poetry’s reach and made evident—for a time—its transcendent power.
The Uncozy Christie Fall 2015
by Eve Tushnet
A reflection on the underestimated Dame Agatha Christie at 125.
The Flowering of Legal Cynicism Fall 2015
by Bruce P. Frohnen
Welcome to the jungle. Frohnen argues that legal cynicism harnessed to ideology has so undermined the rule of law that all of life is open to abuse at the hands of an unrestrained state possessed by a mob mentality.
Terry Castle: The Anti-Paglia Summer 2015
by Helen Andrews
What is it that makes The Professor and Other Writings the best American essay collection since Consider the Lobster?
Churchill Defends the Gallipoli Campaign Summer 2015
a review by Francis P. Sempa
Sempa looks at Winston Churchill’s attempts to defend the strategy of the Gallipoli offensive in World War I—and his role in it—a century after the disastrous campaign cost a quarter of a million lives.
Norman Mailer and the End of Journalism Spring 2015
by Mark Judge
Judge compares Norman Mailer, a leading light in the New Journalism, to his successors today. Beyond mere bias is a deeper reason for the decline of journalism: the end of journalistic boot camp.
Why Secular Liberalism Isn’t Liberal Spring 2015
by Forfare Davis
John Gray, René Girard, and the return of tribal religion
L’Engle’s Conservatism Spring 2015
by Jordan J. Ballor
Ballor looks at the nuanced worldview revealed by a newly uncovered passage from a draft of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy classic, A Wrinkle in Time and her warnings of the dangers of our pursuit of security.
Why a New Sonnet about a Medieval English Monarch Is Worth Reading Spring 2015
by Eugene Schlanger
Schlanger considers the poem from UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy written for the recent interment of King Richard III and its unusual merits as a historically aware poem.
Citizens Without States? Winter 2015
by Lee Trepanier
Adapted from Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Globalization: Citizens without States. Lee Trepanier and Khalil Habib, ed. University of Kentucky Press, 2011. Paperback, 376 pages, $35.
A Cause Lost—and Forgotten Winter 2015
by Helen Andrews
Lessons from Mary Ward and the Women’s Anti-Suffragist Movement
Harry V. Jaffa, RIP Winter 2015
by Robert R. Reilly
Reilly offers some personal reflections on his friendship with Harry Jaffa and what he learned from the great Lincoln scholar and political philosopher.
Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and the Faith that Comes by Hearing Winter 2015
by Pedro Blas González
“I readily believe that there are more invisible Natures in the universe than visible ones. Yet who shall explain to us this numerous company, their grades, their relationships, their distinguishing features, and the functions of each of them?” —epigraph to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Walter Berns, RIP Winter 2015
by William Gould
Remembering the great constitutional scholar and political theorist (1919–2015).
Meeting Stalin’s Challenge Fall 2014
by Francis P. Sempa
Kennan, Lippmann, Burnham, and the Great Strategy Debate in the Early Cold War Years
Caesar, princeps, Augustus, god Fall 2014
by Matthew M. McGowan
The shifting identities of Rome’s first emperor
Homo Economicus, Absurdus, or Viator? Fall 2014
by Giovanni Patriarca
A Brief Philosophical Journey into Modernity.
Why the Exorcist Endures Fall 2014
by Mark Judge
More than forty years after its release, one film still has more power than most films in the horror genre because it speaks to a category of dehumanization that is now taboo in American culture.
Time and Permanence in T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets Fall 2014
by Pedro Blas González
In my beginning is my end.... … to be restored, our sickness must grow worse. —T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Babbitt and Belloc: Two Peas, Different Pods Fall 2014
by Chris Butynskyi
Two conservative authors sought the restoration of Western civilization, but they differ significantly on their diagnosis and solution.
Words and Deeds Summer 2014
by Eugene Schlanger
Maya Angelou (1928–2014)
Teaching in an Age of Ideology Summer 2014
by Lee Trepanier
Profiles of four twentieth-century teachers—Voegelin, Sandoz, Niemeyer, and Hallowell—whose lives offer insight in cultivating a desire for truth, goodness, and beauty in an ideological age.
Alfred Thayer Mahan and the Coming of the First World War Summer 2014
by Francis P. Sempa
Sempa offers a survey of the thought and writings of Admiral A. T. Mahan, one of the few Americans to recognize the growing danger of Germany before World War I.
The Future of the West in the Thought of Muggeridge and Ortega y Gasset Spring 2014
by Pedro Blas González
Both Muggeridge and Ortega y Gasset argue in different ways that modern intellectuals have turned their back on freedom because it makes great demands on people who find the idea of moral responsibility too taxing.
The Centennial of a Cataclysm: One Life, One Family Spring 2014
by Timothy S. Goeglein
On Memorial Day weekend, as we approach the centennial of World War I, Tim Goeglein looks at the life of an individual soldier-poet to help us assess the war’s cost.
The Real Source of Modern Judicial Review Spring 2014
by Bruce P. Frohnen
Frohnen looks at the role of ideology and the precedents established by Chief Justice Taney’s decision in the Dred Scott case.
Mackinder, Geography, and History Spring 2014
by Francis P. Sempa
The work of the British geographer and geopolitical theorist Halford John Mackinder reminds us that, despite technological progress or ideological factors, the political world is still inseparable from the physical world.
The Stories We Tell—The People We Become (Part 2) Winter 2014
by Ted McAllister
Every culture provides a larger story in which to locate one’s self. In the second of two parts, Ted McAllister looks at a third story about America and considers the strengths and flaws of the three.
The Stories We Tell—The People We Become Winter 2014
by Ted McAllister
Every culture provides a larger story in which to locate one’s self. In this, the first of two parts, Ted McAllister looks at two of the three primary competing stories Americans tell about themselves. Part Two will look at a third story and consider the strengths and flaws of each.
Pop Culture Mysticism Winter 2014
by Mark Judge
Conservative outlets will occasionally run a light piece about how this movie or that pop song is actually conservative, as if they had found a gold coin in a landfill of dung. In fact, religious mysticism, if not Republican dogma, radiates through the popular culture. And we are missing it.
Happiness or Joy? Winter 2014
by Pedro Blas González
Talking about happiness ad nauseam, as we do about everything else in the West today, does not make one happy.
Gottfried Responds Winter 2014
a review by Paul Edward Gottfried
Paul Gottfried responds to Daniel McCarthy’s review of his book on Leo Strauss.
‘As You Wish’ Winter 2014
by Jordan J. Ballor
On the fortieth anniversary of The Princess Bride, Jordan Ballor looks at some of the story’s enduring themes.
Russell Kirk as Historian Fall 2013
by Bruce P. Frohnen
Frohnen looks at Kirk’s work as a historian, suggesting that it is his ability to connect us with a particular thread in history, rather than to any abstract theme, that is worth celebrating. A version of this essay was given at the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University at a conference on The Conservative Mind.
An Aesthetic Vision on West 43rd Street Fall 2013
by Eugene Schlanger
An Evening with the Poet C. P. Cavafy
The Voice of Michael Oakeshott in the Conversation of Conservatism Fall 2013
by Wilfred M. McClay
A paper presented to the biennial meeting of the Michael Oakeshott Association, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 28, 2013.
Patrick Dempsey in Forbes: Great or Garish? Fall 2013
by Eugene Schlanger
Deinstitutionalizing the Humanities? Summer 2013
by Peter Augustine Lawler
Lawler takes up the argument of Lee Siegel on the place of the humanities, suggesting that the study of great books needs a context and that we should celebrate a different kind of diversity.
Plato’s Idea of the Teacher Spring 2013
by Pedro Blas González
In this essay, the second of two parts, philosophy professor Pedro Blas González explores critical themes from Plato’s classic dialogue.
Human Nature, Allegory, and Truth in Plato’s Republic Spring 2013
by Pedro Blas González
In this essay, the first of two parts, philosophy professor Pedro Blas González explores critical themes from Plato’s classic dialogue.
Marital Distress and the 2012 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize Winter 2013
by Eugene Schlanger
Sharon Olds’s “marital distress poetry” was awarded the 2012 T. S. Eliot Prize. The Wall Street Poet looks for some cultural or poetic significance in Olds’s verse.
The State of American Liberal Education These Days Fall 2012
by Peter Augustine Lawler
Peter Augustine Lawler says that the requirements of being middle class—of living in a meritocracy based on productivity—gradually destroys liberal education in America, but two countercultures continue to preserve serious education that teaches people to live well.
Jacques Barzun, 1907–2012 Fall 2012
by Mark Malvasi
“Neither an unthinking optimist nor a congenital pessimist, Barzun took the long view that only history can provide.”
To College Students Considering a Course in American Poetry Summer 2012
by Eugene Schlanger
The Wall Street poet advises students, before registering for a class on poetry, to browse the poems of the last decade. We live in a period of strife—to say the least. Surely some contemporary American poet has observed something memorable in verse?
Joseph Mitchell and the Free Life Summer 2012
by Dermot Quinn
The New Yorker’s Joseph Mitchell wrote with an almost Burkean enthusiasm for the neighborhoods, physical and metaphysical, of his city, the communities in which lived an array of eccentrics, oddballs, misfits, lonely, gifted, strange, surly, lovable people that could not be found so concentratedly in any other city in the world.
Searching while Blindfolded Summer 2012
by Gerald J. Russello
A comment on a silly piece by Russell Jacoby.
On Statesmanship: The Case of John Adams Spring 2012
by Bruce P. Frohnen
This article is the second of two parts and is based on a talk delivered to a Colloquium on Statesmanship and the Constitution at the Rochester Institute of Technology, April 13–14, 2012. Part One is here.
‘The Farther from the Scene of Horror, the Easier the Talk’ Spring 2012
by R. J. Stove
Paul Fussell, who died this month, was perhaps more a curmudgeon than a conservative, but his harsh language was intended to counteract propaganda and euphemism and so recover the reality of the human in the face of war and other cultural assaults. Robert Stove provides an obituary appropriate for Memorial Day.
On Statesmanship: The Case of John Adams Spring 2012
by Bruce P. Frohnen
This article is the first of two parts and is based on a talk delivered to a Colloquium on Statesmanship and the Constitution at the Rochester Institute of Technology, April 13–14, 2012.
Adrienne Rich and an Assessment of Contemporary American Poetry Spring 2012
by Eugene Schlanger
Even measured against the hyperbole of her obituaries, which are less about the quality and resonance of her poetry and more about the ideologies of her admirers, it is possible to assess the public value of contemporary American poetry in the context of Adrienne Rich’s words.
Herrick and Donne and the Problems of Modernist Poetics Fall 2011
by Mark Anthony Signorelli
Signorelli looks at past critiques of the metaphysical poets to suggest the problematic nature of modernist poetry. Do poets like Eliot and Wilbur give delight, or are they masters of frigidity?
Fortunate Friendships Fall 2011
by Timothy S. Goeglein
In this excerpt from his new memoir, The Man in the Middle, Tim Goeglein discusses the profound influence on his life of the thought and friendship of Russell Kirk.
Santayana’s Standing Fall 2011
by James Seaton
In this response to David Dilworth's review of his edition of two books by Santayana, James Seaton argues that Santayana was attacking the self-contradictions of the political correctness of his day.
Peter J. Stanlis (1920–2011) Summer 2011
by Ian Crowe
Farewell to a great friend, Burke scholar, and one of the most influential American men of letters in the twentieth century.
Otto von Habsburg (20 November 1912–4 July 2011) Summer 2011
by Denis Kitzinger
A eulogy for one of the great defenders of Christian Europe. May he rest in peace.
Poetry and the Common Language Spring 2011
by Mark Anthony Signorelli
Signorelli argues that contemporary poetry's quest for natural, colloquial expression is fundamentally misdirected. Poetry truly is an "artificial" mode of narrative expression, which is necessary to rise above the debased rhetoric of the modern age. We do not stand in need of a return to nature; we need a return to art.
Newman’s ‘Idea’ and the Crisis of the Secular University Spring 2011
by Craig Bernthal
Craig Bernthal of California State University, Fresno, looks candidly at the current state of university education in light of John Henry Newman's enduring work, The Idea of the University. As Newman well knew, education has its own built in set of laws. The consequences for evading these laws may not long be avoided.
The Public Responsibilities of Known American Poets Winter 2011
by Eugene Schlanger
In this original essay, Gene Schlanger, the Wall Street Poet, reflects on the potential good of poetry in an age when the known poets cannot attract an audience or attention.
Conservatism in Germany Volume 47, Number 3–4 (Fall 2010)
by Harald Bergbauer
In Remembrance of Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing (1927–2009)
The Story of Carlton Hayes Volume 47, Number 1 (Winter 2010)
by John Joseph Shanley
A Foreign Policy for (Probably Not Very Many) Americans Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by John Willson
‘And Therefore as Stranger Give It Welcome’ Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by R. Andrew Newman
Russell Kirk’s Ghostly Fiction Invites Us to Embrace and Live the Mystery
The Sword of Education Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by David G. Bonagura, Jr.
From Tradition to ‘Values Conservatism’ Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by Paul Gottfried
A Sympathetic Critic’s View of Kirk’s Legacy
The Many Roots of American Order Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by Lee Edwards
Lost Causes and Gained Causes Volume 46, Number 4 (Winter 2008)
by James E. Person Jr.
Russell Kirk’s Legacy After 15 Years
Stealing Dorothy Volume 46, Number 3 (Fall 2008)
by Caleb Stegall
‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ and My Fortunate Home
The ‘Time’ of Elizabeth Madox Roberts Volume 46, Number 3 (Fall 2008)
by Katherine Dalton
Robert Traver: Anatomy of a Fisherman Volume 46, Number 3 (Fall 2008)
by Jason Peters
On Brooklyn’s Side Volume 46, Number 3 (Fall 2008)
by Gerald J. Russello
What About Booth? Volume 46, Number 3 (Fall 2008)
by Jeremy Beer
Newton Booth Tarkington, Neglected Hoosier
The Conservative Exiles’ Reading List Website Exclusives (2007–2008)
by Joseph P. Duggan
In Memoriam: Richard Durant Volume 46, Number 2 (Summer 2008)
by Clark Durant
An Obituary
The Non-Human World of China Miéville Volume 46, Number 2 (Summer 2008)
by Craig Bernthal
The Witness Revisited Volume 46, Number 1 (Spring 2008)
by Joseph S. Salemi
Whittaker Chambers and American Conservatism
Sketches of Painterly Lives Volume 46, Number 1 (Spring 2008)
by James Panero
The Art of the Art Biography
From the Nightstand of a Bookman . . . Volume 46, Number 1 (Spring 2008)
by Bruce Frohnen

A “conservative character [is] suspicious of doctrinaire alteration, respectful toward history, preferring variety over uniformity, acknowledging a moral order composed of human persons, not of mere political and economic atoms subservient to the state.”

Russell Kirk, A Program for Conservatives, 1954

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Bookman Contributors Elsewhere

Grant Havers writes on a disturbing religious court case in Canada.

Dan McCarthy has a review-essay on Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed and William Galston’s Anti-Pluralism, newly published at The National Interest.

Titus Techera and Terry Teachout discuss Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Allen Mendenhall in the Los Angeles Review of Books on slavery and the Supreme Court.

Gerald Russello reviews Roger Scruton’s new Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition for National Review.

George Nash gave a lecture on World War I and its legacy.

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We are pleased to announce the release of The University Bookman on Edmund Burke, now available for Kindle. Collecting 21 reviews, essays, and interviews from the Bookman on the life and thought of Edmund Burke, this book is only $2.99, and purchases support our ongoing work to provide an imaginative defense of the Permanent Things. (3 Mar 2015)

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