Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers


From an Angry Reader:

From: Goofomatic

 Dear Sir,

 You may be a “classicist” and historian but you are clearly not a logician. Your reductive, simplistic polarizing nonsense may appeal to those disaffected and disenchanted by change but to others, like me, it reeks of divisive, defeatist drivel. Globalization is merely the hobgoblin you need in order to justify your rambling lament for “the good old days”. I have read numerous op-ed pieces written by you and they are consistent in their litany on complaints and completely devoid of proposed solutions, or even ideas for improving whatever you’re complaining about.

 What alternative course do you propose? Are you just looking to vent? Your failure to grasp the complexities and impact of technological change, the geo political economic realities of today is staggering.


A thinking person

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Anonymous “Thinking Person,”

Your final grand epithet is your own, but sadly not supported by the content of your letter which reveals little thinking—aside from the fact that anonymity often hides a lack of self-confidence and reveals timidity. For someone who is “thinking,” you sure do not supply any concrete examples, but instead plenty of misinformation. In my piece, I wrote exactly what you wished to read, but apparently missed: globalization is paradoxical in allowing those from the Amazon basin to the Czech countryside to have material opportunities undreamed of in the past while also eroding traditional networks of communities and towns.

How perfectly you conform to the now typical “angry reader” profile (ad hominem, streams of repetitive adjectives (“reductive, simplistic, polarizing, nonsense [do you ever come up for air?]), all without evidence and specificity. I congratulate you that you did not resort to capital letters and obscenity.

I am not disenchanted by change per se, but seek to chronicle its paradoxes and contradictions as globalization makes us all materially wealthier, but also more isolated and often unhappy (Facebook is great in connecting the world, even as it isolates us from neighbors next door). My job as an op-ed writer is to chronicle contemporary phenomena and to make readers question the received wisdom of popular culture, not necessarily to offer wonkish solutions or political programs, although often I do suggest possible remedies for problems of illegal immigration and education, to take two examples.

I have traveled a great deal and read widely on technological change from antiquity (do you know anything about the first globalization during the Hellenistic and Roman eras and their effects on local communities?) to the modern age, and have tried to live a traditional life on a farm in an impoverished area of rural California while working at a cosmopolitan Stanford at the heart of Silicon Valley.

Do you seek to live both sides of the globalist equation, or are you venting because my constructive criticism of a globalized elite comes too close to your home? Certainly, your angry letter would resonate if you had defiantly identified yourself, described your expertise on globalization, and offered reasoned criticism—instead of rather meekly hiding behind a pseudonym and a pompous one at that. Your email ID was “Goofomatic”: the one accurate adjective of your entire incoherent rant.


Thinking Person,

Victor Hanson

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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