Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

What Will Historians Make of Our Annus Horribilis?

Victor Davis Hanson // Townhall

The year 2020 is now commonly dubbed the annus horribilis — “the horrible year.” The last 10 months certainly have been awful.

But then so was 1968, when both Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. The Tet Offensive escalated the Vietnam War and tore America apart. Race and anti-war riots rocked our major cities. Protesters fought with police at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. A new influenza virus, H3N2 (the “Hong Kong flu”), killed some 100,000 Americans.

But an even worse 2020 saw the COVID-19 outbreak reach global pandemic proportions by March. Chinese officials mislead the world about the origins of the disease — without apologies.

Authorities here in the U.S. were sometimes contradictory in declaring quarantines either effective or superfluous. Masks were discouraged and then mandated. Researchers initially did not know how exactly the virus spread, only that it could be lethal to those over 65 or with comorbidities.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

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.

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