Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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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 Korean Games of Thrones

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


The time for pious American lectures is over.


North Korea

North Korea seeks respect on the cheap — and attention and cash — that it cannot win the old-fashioned way by the long, hard work of achieving a dynamic economy or an influential culture.


Over the last quarter-century, it has proved that feigned madness and the road to nuclear weapons (Pakistan is another good example) provide a shortcut to all three goals: It is now feared, in the news, and likely to receive another round of Western danegeld.


Setting off a bomb (as opposed to merely bragging that it soon will do so) seems to stave off a Western-style preemption of the sort that eventually liquidated Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi.


Unlike both Iraq and Libya, North Korea had two other indemnity policies that so far have ruled out Western preemption: 1) a nuclear neighboring patron like China, and 2) a nihilistic conventional artillery and missile arsenal aimed at a nearby rich Westernized South Korea. An outmoded, conventional, short-ranged asset would be largely irrelevant in most military landscapes, but it is not when based just 35 miles from Seoul (which exchanged hands five times from the beginning to end of the Korean War). Consequently, the unpredictability of Beijing and the possibility of an attack within hours on Seoul — which would end up like Dresden in 1945 — enhanced North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal.


What then is North Korea’s ultimate objective?


Most obviously, a permanent landscape of crisis, in which it can periodically test a more sophisticated bomb than the last, threaten to incinerate a Western city, and launch a missile into Western airspace. If done symphonically, periodic “crises” are then created, envoys pour into the region, the U.N. goes into panic mode, the EU weighs in, “wise men” meet, China is jawboned — and a brand-new, revised, updated, and superior aid “package” is delivered, with stern warnings not to try the con again.


Thus the latest Korean Caligula gets global attention, his praetorian guard is assured of its continued privilege, and China offers its Cheshire smile to signal that Armageddon is avoided.


This shakedown can continue indefinitely — or at least until too many other countries (see Iran) emulate North Korea and too many players make the game too expensive and too dangerous. Or it can continue until a true breakthrough in missile defense nullifies all North Korean offensive capability, or until China sees the growing costs outweighing its heretofore undeniable benefits. Read more →

From An Angry Reader:

You need some serious help.

Robert Millsap


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Robert Millsap,


In some sense, you are right. I have an acre yard that I tend myself and often could use some quite serious help in mowing, pruning, weeding, and hauling.


Sincerely Victor Hanson

Brawn in an Age of Brains

Does physical labor have a future?

By Victor Davis Hanson
City Journal

Those who would never stoop to paint their own houses gladly expend far more energy sweating at the gym. During the decline in physical-labor jobs over the last 50 years, an entire compensating industry has grown up around physical fitness. As modern work becomes less physical, requiring hours at a desk or some sort of immobile standing, the fitness center has replaced the drudgery of the field, the mine, and the forest as a means to exercise the body each day. A forbidding array of exercise bikes and StairMasters not only works the body; it also reinforces the modern, scientifically backed conviction that physical fitness promotes general wellness, mental acuity, and perhaps longevity. A new slang has entered the Western vocabulary, from “abs,” “glutes,” and “cardio” to “ripped” and “toned” to describe the ideal results of daily exercise: a look of chiseled fitness. The ideal is much different from the appearance of the pipe fitter and welder of the past, whose protruding bellies and girth were not necessarily incongruous with physical strength and stamina incurred from daily physical labor. Read more →

Putin’s Playthings

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


Putin will do anything to advance Russia’s interests because his country is in terrible shape.


About a year ago, Donald Trump Jr. met with a mysterious Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. was purportedly eager to receive information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.


Veselnitskaya denies that she was working for the Kremlin to lobby for favorable Russian treatment. But in the past, Veselnitskaya has been connected with a number of Russian-related lobbying groups.


Trump Jr., for his part, proved naïve and foolish to gobble such possible setup bait. The Russians proved eager to confuse, confound, and embarrass everyone involved in the 2016 election.


This latest Trump family imbroglio piggybacks on six months of Russian collusion charges. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned less than a month into his job after being less than candid about his contacts with the Russians. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager, had some questionable Russian business interests and resigned well before the election.


All these stories were luridly headlined in the press. Read more →

The Fifth American War

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


The country is coming apart, and the advocates of radical egalitarianism are winning.


The wars between Trump, the media, the deep state, and the progressive party — replete with charges and counter-charges of scandal, collusion, and corruption — are merely symptoms of a much larger fundamental and growing divide between Americans that is reaching a dangerous climax.


On four prior occasions in American history the country nearly split apart, as seemingly irreconcilable cultural, economic, political, social, geographical, and demographic fault lines opened a path to hatred and violence.


During the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1830s, factions nearly ripped the country apart over whether the East Coast Founders’ establishment of a half-century would relinquish its monopoly of political power to reflect the new demographic realties of an expanding frontier — and its populist champions often deemed unfit for self-governance. For the most part, the Jacksonians won.


Three decades later the nation divided over slavery, prompting the most lethal war in American history to end it and force the defeated Confederate southern states back into the Union.


The Great Depression, and the establishment’s inept responses to it, left a quarter of the country unemployed for nearly a decade — hungry and desperate to expand government even if it entailed curtailing liberty in a way never envisioned by the Founders. The result was eventually the redefinition of freedom as the right of the individual to have his daily needs guaranteed by the state. Read more →

Russia Didn’t Interfere In U.S. Election To Help Trump, But To Destabilize America

 By Paul Gregory //

 (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

A still unidentified Democratic Party donor paid for the factually challenged dossier that almost sunk the Donald Trump campaign. The dossier was created (and perhaps written) with the support and assistance of unregistered foreign agents of the Russian government, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The offer by an obscure music publicist to Donald Trump Jr. to share compromising information on the Clinton campaign was, as will be shown below, most likely a Russian operation. I conclude that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was not to help Trump but to throw the American political system into chaos and threaten its foundations.

Russia boasts one of the most effective and ruthless political operations in Washington. A flamboyant man-about-town ambassador sits at the top hobnobbing with the American political aristocracy. Russia’s diplomats, spies, and PR experts lobby Russian interests and recruit the powerhouses of American political influence to plead their cases and use hired guns to sling dirt and promote “disinformation” about opponents.

To read more:

My interview with Forum on KQED

From An Angry Reader:

You either drank the cool aid or got a handsome check in the mail. Nonetheless, your argument doesn’t hold water. Not when I talk to people in southwest Virginia whose wells were contaminated by fracking. And throw in the illegal discharge of the brine water back into local streams. A resident showed me the pipe he says the company (look it up) uses in the wee hours of the morning.

The push back to the eventual end to fossil fuels is to be expected, but the end will come. That is something to bank on.

Mike Harton
Midlothian, VA

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Mike Harton,

It is never wise to begin a refutation with an ad hominem attack, a de facto admission of a weak argument.

Fracking is not a zero sum game of evil versus good, as I wrote.

You simply do not appreciate the role of cheaply produced U.S. energy in relation to geostrategic, military, and economic challenges, as natural gas and affordable petroleum can bridge the fossil fuels gap until competitive so-called “green” energy is available.

For each of your anecdotes, I could add and trump you one: the Mexican-American poor in my environs who cannot afford $4 a gallon gas to get 40 miles to work, but now save $1,000 a year due to crashing gas prices, or the enlisted military who feel relieved that the Middle East  and its assorted quagmires are not vital any longer for U.S. energy needs, or the business people who believe cheaper natural-gas generated electricity will lure back high-paying jobs from Asia and Europe in  energy-intensive industries.

We live in a tragic world of 51% advantage always being preferable to 49%. Only the adolescent mind argues that a choice must be perfect to be good. The alternatives to fossil fuel production for now are more Solyndra-like subsidized boondoggles, or the green mandates that spike kilowatt rates and force California’s Central Valley poor to sit in Target and Wal-Mart to cool off, given their inability to afford to run air conditioners in 110 degree heat.

Fossil fuels may well disappear in a few decades; in the meantime, if we can produce our own fuel it will immeasurably aid our middle and poor classes, while giving us latitudes in foreign policy not seen since the 1940s.

By the way, I have never  taken payment from anyone to massage a particular point of view nor have used mind-altering drugs. To suggest those who disagree with you do that is what the psycho-babble industry calls ‘projection’.

Finally, as I write, some members of Congress are investigating various green anti-fracking groups for allegedly receiving “a handsome check” from Putin’s oil interests (that have been nearly wrecked by US frackers) to stop fracking and thereby restore billions of lost foreign exchange to the now anemic Russian economy. Should I accuse you—without evidence—of predicating your anti-fracking stance on Russian money? To do so would be as absurd as what you suggest.

Victor Hanson
Selma, CA


From an Angry Reader:

Hello Dr. Hanson,

While it’s hard to argue with “be happy day by day”, our current form of capitalism – which Hoover seems to endorse – makes that near impossible.

Over the last 30 years, Friedman’s nutty idea of maximizing shareholder value as the only responsibility a corporation has, followed by Jack Welch’s popularizing of that nutty idea (which he later regretted) killed the middle and working class.

And CEO’s are paid not Drucker’s 20x average wages but 335x. Hoover’s free market stance seems ok with all that.

We need a different form of capitalism for your column to make sense.


D Davidson

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader D Davidson,

Thank you for your note. As I look around the word at the plight of the poor—Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, Russia—I do not see capitalism as the common denominator of poverty, but rather communism, socialism, statism, and crony capitalism of a sort. Globalization did untold damage to the red-state interior, in that it helped weaken the idea of a nation of common values and citizens and made the global market the final arbiter of social policy.

Are you a Trump voter, given that your letter seems to echo the concerns, for example, as voiced by Steven Bannon at the Vatican not long ago, who called for an enlightened form of capitalism and an end to transnational elite governance? I really do not care what CEOs or the rich make—most like the Google team, Facebook people, Warren Buffet, and Gates, Inc. are leftist billionaires—as long as the middle classes and poor have good jobs, fairly priced housing and the hope that life will be better for their children. That is no longer the case, largely because an elite has decided that overregulation, utopian environmentalism, and creeping statism is good for everyone else but themselves who have the means to navigate around the consequences of their own ideologies.

We need to promote cheap energy, manufacturing jobs, vocational education, and begin to honor professions like farming, mining, timber, and construction rather than relegate them to caricatures and ossified entertainment (e.g., Ax-men, ice truckers, tuna boaters, etc.) on cable reality TV.

I have found among the rich somewhat of a difference between those who ‘made it’ farming, ranching, building, manufacturing, etc. vs. those who made it even more so through speculation, banking and insurance. The former often seems more real in some sense. As you can see I have a prejudice against the metrosexual Pajama Boy elite who profess one way and live quite another, although I confess it is often stereotyped and unfair.


V Hanson

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