Victor Davis Hanson

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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.

The Case for Trump

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee. Donald Trump needs a unified Republican party in the homestretch if he is to have any chance left of catching Hillary Clinton — along with winning higher percentages of the college-educated and women than currently support him. But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters. He bragged about his lone-wolf candidacy and claimed that his polls were — and would be — always tremendous — contrary to his present deprecation of them. Is it all that surprising that some in his party and some independents, who felt offended, swear that they will not stoop to vote for him when in extremis he now needs them? Or that party stalwarts protest that they no longer wish to be associated with a malodorous albatross hung around their neck?

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A Postmodern NFL

 by Victor Davis Hanson // The Corner: The one and only.  
In an essay that could come right out of 1984, Washington Post Ministry of Truth writers Drew Harwell and Rick Maese struggle to explain the abrupt erosion of the NFL’s televised audiences. They manage to cite every conceivable longer-term trend, such as saturation of the market, competition from other entertainment, the 2016 political race, and the decline in television viewing in general.
Yet these factors for the most part are familiar, insidious conditions that alone cannot explain this year’s historic and abrupt 15 percent drop in fall ratings.
The unmentioned San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can.
His fad of ritually trashing the United States has now saturated millions of living rooms. His anti-American tirades and adolescent stage act enraged viewers, even after the refusal to stand for the anthem spread throughout the league without criticism from the NFL hierarchy — odd, given the now fossilized red/white/blue star-studded NFL logo.
What enraged viewers (I, too, turned off football) was mostly the multifaceted hypocrisy of both Kaepernick and the NFL:
a) A multiracial Kaepernick was raised by white suburban parents and is a $20 million–a–year pampered athlete, whose only prior racial editorialization earned him an NFL fine for using the N-word slur (Cura te ipsum), and who had little prior record of philanthropy to the African-American community.

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Angry Reader

Comment from a Reader:

But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women”





Victor David Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Feig,

Spare me the bottled, adolescent capital-letter piety. The choice for now is between a repulsive-speaking Trump, the blowhard, and Clinton, who, to keep on your topic of sexual assault, chortled over her ability to get a child rapist off with a light sentence (a real, not a rhetorical victim), and who habitually denigrated women who were sexually assaulted by her husband, and whose campaign is being aided on stump by both Al Gore (the “crazed sex poodle” accused of sexual assault in a motel room) and her husband, who was disbarred due to lying about just one of his serial sexual assaults.

Both are flawed candidates, but the election hinges on which of their respective agendas are more likely to lead to greater security, legality and prosperity for most Americans. In that 51/49% world, Trump’s hypothetical agenda is preferable to Clinton’s actual.

Given your sanctimonious sermonizing, ‘how can you not see this’? Hillary Clinton reportedly dreamed of “droning” Julian Assange. In other words, the Secretary of States envisioned assassinating a figure she found dangerous to her campaign. If that is not morally repugnant enough for you, how dare you vote for someone who felt adjudicating contracts for Haitian relief depended on cash contributions (trafficking in lives for money)? I could go on, but you get the contrast from the hypothetical reprehensible in the subjunctive versus the actual past reprehensible in the indicative.

In find your moral blinkers “unbelievable”.

I do not habitually, as your wont, impugn the motives of those like you who will vote for a serial liar, extortionist, criminal, and hypocrite, given I assume that they feel her flaws do not detract enough from her progressive agenda which they favor; so, given the wart on your nose, do not slight the pimple on someone else’s cheek. Finally, what makes you think I am a registered Republican?

I would indeed warn my daughter about a probable sexual grabber like Donald Trump—but especially a sexual assaulter like Al Gore, and a rapist like Bill Clinton—and in particular a legal and emotional enabler of rape like Hillary Clinton.


Selma resident

The So-Called Trump Supporter/Defender/Endorser

The Corner
The one and only.
 by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
I think we at National Review have to be very careful in blanket condemnations of Trump “endorsers,” “supporters,” “defenders,” and scare-quote “conservatives” as if they were a monolithic group of mindless extremists or utter fools. Many or perhaps even most, who for years have supported National Review, did not support Trump in the primaries. Many saw the Trump phenomenon not as melodrama, but as tragedy — given eight years of Obama, the sense that the so-called “rules” are not applied equally to an elite in Washington, the past failed centrist campaigns of McCain and Romney, the perceived inability of the Republican party to address open borders, staggering debt, Obamacare, and the trajectory of social extremism, along with the ineptness of what had been billed as — and what we thought would certainly be — an especially gifted Republican primary field. Into that void, Trump barreled in with searing heat where in the past sober and judicious light were perceived to have failed. The rest is history.
The challenge for Republicans — whatever the election result and to the extent that it is fixable — will be to bridge the gaps between the diehard Trump core, the so-called conservative media and political establishment, traditional-minded independents, and the conservative base. Key will be discovering what were the conditions that created Trump (especially that undeniable strain of supporter that saw losing with Trump as preferable to possibly winning with a more marketable Republican candidate), both the candidate and the message, and the avoidance of self-righteous disdain that will only be perceived as the sort of elitism that empowered the Trump phenomenon in the first place.
Many National Review readers (as well as those who we all hope will return to NR) are hardly fanatics in their support for Trump. Their common bond is a deep and existential fear of what four, and likely eight, years of Hillary Clinton will do to the country on top of eight years of Obama’s hard progressivism. It is sometimes true that they overlook Trump’s glaring flaws, most recently his gross language, and that has and will have more consequences, but mostly they are frustrated with the double standards of the Left, which poses as morally superior on matter of gender, sex, and feminism, and yet has had for a half century no problem, for political reasons, canonizing the fatally negligent Ted Kennedy or the serial sexual groper, philanderer, and perhaps sexual assaulter Bill Clinton.
Finally, it would be wiser before rather than after the election to seek common ground. And one way to do it is to be careful in all but writing off millions of conservative voters and thousands of loyal National Review readers who will vote Trump as somehow beyond the pale, and whose support, and the expansion of that support, are essential to finding ways of unifying conservatives.

The Tenth Life of Donald Trump

  by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review Online
By seizing control of Sunday night’s debate, he steadied his faltering candidacy — a bit. The Sunday debate recalibrated the moribund Trump candidacy. It will not end this week. The stampede and groupthink calls for his resignation will ease. Trump might have lost the debate on points of detail, but by the end of hour one, he had won it on energy level and audacity.
No one has ever spoken so bluntly to Hillary Clinton in her 30 years in politics. The confrontation was long overdue. In an either/or race, Trump at least reminded the audience that he is running as a refutation of the status quo. Hillary still bores with the idea that Obama’s record is fine and her continuance of it will make things even better.
Trump, as the teenage delinquent, was at times, as expected, repetitive and brash. Hillary, as playground monitor, was characteristically off-putting, sanctimonious and disingenuous. At one point she foolishly explained her advocacy of being duplicitous by comparing herself to a supposed two-faced Abe Lincoln. Pulling Old Abe down to pull yourself up is not a good idea. Nor is referring voters to “fact-checking” at her own website! And there is something now surreal about Hillary’s promises to get tough with Putin, after she cooked up that ridiculous stunt of a red “reset” button in Geneva in 2009, while subsequently caving on almost everything the Russians wanted.

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Trump, Politics, and Our Sexual Schizophrenia

 Conservatives should know better than to so quickly validate a dishonest narrative that benefits the other side.


A few minutes into Sunday’s debate Donald Trump’s decade-old crude sexual banter with a reporter from an entertainment show was mentioned by the CNN moderator. Donald again apologized for the comments, and Hillary immediately pounced on Trump’s misogyny, throwing in his alleged racism and Islamophobia. To his credit, Trump ignored her slurs and attacked her record. When Democrat loyalist Martha Raddatz pressed on, Trump let loose with a powerful contrast with Bill’s record of abuse––which Hillary side-stepped.

Welcome to another debate on everything except the issues. Consider the reporting on Trump’s comments, which is the mother of all dog-bites-man-stories. I don’t know what cocoon you have to come from not to know that every single day millions of men––and women–– of all ages, races, and sexual persuasions exchange vulgar, crude banter about sex. And you’d have to be particularly dumb, or duplicitous, to be shocked that a New Yorker with a flamboyant and braggadocios personality who is involved in casinos, reality television, construction, and beauty pageants probably would do so on a regular basis. Or, if not dumb, then a partisan hack indulging in rank hypocrisy in order to gain political advantage. Welcome to another episode of America’s political hypocrisy and sexual schizophrenia. Read more →

From Greek tragedy to American therapy

From Greek tragedy to American therapy


The Greeks gave us tragedy — the idea that life is never fair. Terrible stuff for no reason tragically falls on good people. Life’s choices are sometimes only between the bad and the far worse.

In the plays of the ancient dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles, heroism and nobility only arise out of tragedies.

The tragic hero refuses to blame the gods for his terrible fate. Instead, a Prometheus, Ajax or Oedipus prefers to fight against the odds. He thereby establishes a code of honor, even as defeat looms.

In contrast, modern Americans gave the world therapy.

Life must always be fair. If not, something or someone must be blamed. All good people deserve only a good life — or else.

A nation of victims soon becomes collectively paralyzed in fear of offending someone. Pay down the $20 trillion debt? Reform the unsustainable Social Security system? Ask the 47 percent of the population that pays no income tax to at least pay some?

Nope. Victims would allege that such belt-tightening is unfair and impossible — and hurtful to boot. So we do nothing as the rendezvous with financial collapse gets ever closer.

Does anyone think a culture of whiners can really build high-speed rail in California? Even its supporters want the noisy tracks built somewhere away from their homes.

Even animals get in on the new victimhood. To build a reservoir in drought-stricken California means oppressing the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or ignoring the feelings of the foothill yellow-legged frog.
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Is Trump Admiral Bull Halsey or Captain Queeg?

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
In debate No. 2, Trump owes it to the ‘deplorables’ to focus on the issues and exert some self-control. In the first debate, Hillary stuck out her jaw on cybersecurity, the treatment of women, sermons on the need for restrained language, and talk about the shenanigans of the rich — and Trump passed on her e-mail scandals, her denigration of Bill’s women, her reckless smears like “deplorables,” and her pay-for-pay Clinton Foundation enrichment, obsessed instead with the irrelevant and insignificant.
In fact, the first presidential debate resembled the final scene out of the Caine Mutiny. Trump was melting down like the baited Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), in his convoluted wild-goose-chase defenses of his arcane business career. Watching it was as painful as it was for the admiral judges in the movie who saw fellow officer Queeg reduced to empty shouting about strawberries.

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The Next President Unbound

There is reason to worry about both candidates abusing power as president, because Obama and the press normalized executive overreach.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The Construct of the White Working-Class Zombies

Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ have their antecedents in Obama’s ‘deplorables.’

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
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