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For more than four decades, George F. Will has attempted to discern the principles of the Western political tradition and apply them to America's civic life. Today, the stakes could hardly be higher. Vital questions about the nature of man, of rights, of equality, of majority rule are bubbling just beneath the surface of daily events in America.
The Founders' vision, articulated first in the Declaration of Independence and carried out in the Constitution, gave the new republic a framework for government unique in world history. Their beliefs in natural rights, limited government, religious freedom, and in human virtue and dignity ushered in two centuries of American prosperity. Now, as Will shows, conservatism is under threat -- both from progressives and elements inside the Republican Party. America has become an administrative state, while destructive trends have overtaken family life and higher education. Semi-autonomous executive agencies wield essentially unaccountable power. Congress has failed in its duty to exercise its legislative powers. And the executive branch has slipped the Constitution's leash.
In the intellectual battle between the vision of Founding Fathers like James Madison, who advanced the notion of natural rights that pre-exist government, and the progressivism advanced by Woodrow Wilson, the Founders have been losing. It's time to reverse America's political fortunes.
Expansive, intellectually thrilling, and written with the erudite wit that has made Will beloved by millions of readers, The Conservative Sensibility is an extraordinary new book from one of America's most celebrated political writers.
#1 New York Times Bestseller
"A delightful look at all the little things that make major league baseball a subtle spectacle." —Seattle Times
In his classic tribute to America's pastime, political commentator, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and lifelong sports enthusiast George F. Will travels from the baseball field to the dugout to the locker room to get to the root of the game we all love. He breaks down the sport to its four basic components, managing, pitching, hitting, and fielding, and analyzes the way four of its notables, manager Tony La Russa, pitcher Orel Hershiser, outfielder Tony Gwynn, and shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., approach the game. One of the most acclaimed sports books ever written, Men at Work is a revelatory, and often surprising, study of professional baseball.
In A Nice Little Place on the North Side, leading columnist George Will returns to baseball with a deeply personal look at his hapless Chicago Cubs and their often beatified home, Wrigley Field, as it enters its second century. Baseball, Will argues, is full of metaphors for life, religion, and happiness, and Wrigley is considered one of its sacred spaces. But what is its true, hyperbole-free history?
Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters—from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks—who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility.
In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself.
The world’s oldest democracy—ours—has an old tradition of skepticism about government. However, the degree of dismay about government today is perhaps unprecedented in our history. Americans are particularly convinced that Congress has become irresponsible, either unwilling or incapable of addressing the nation’s problems—while it spends its time and our money on extending its members’ careers. Many Americans have come to believe fundamental reform is needed, specifically limits on the number of terms legislators can serve.
In Restoration, George Will makes a compelling case, drawn from our history and his close observance of Congress, that term limits are now necessary to revive the traditional values of classical republican government, to achieve the Founders’ goal of deliberative democracy, and to restore Congress to competence and its rightful dignity as the First Branch of government. At stake, Will says, is the vitality of America’s great promise self-government under representative institutions. At issue is the meaning of representation. The morality of representative government, Will argues, does not merely permit, it requires representatives to exercise independent judgment rather than merely execute instructions given by constituents. However, careerism, which is a consequence of the professionalization of politics, has made legislators servile and has made the national legislature incapable of rational, responsible behavior. Term limits would restore the constitutional space intended by the Founders, the healthy distance between the electors and the elected that is necessary for genuine deliberation about the public interest.
Blending the political philosophy of the Founders with alarming facts about the behavior of legislative careerists, Restoration demonstrates how term limits, by altering the motives of legislators, can narrow the gap between the theory and the practice of American democracy.
With Will’s signature erudition and wry wit always on display, One Man’s America chronicles a spectacular, eclectic procession of figures who have shaped our cultural landscape–from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., from Victorian poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from cotton picker— turned—country singer Buck Owens to actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan.
Will crisscrosses the country to illuminate what it is that makes America distinctive. He visits the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor and ponders its enduring links to the present. He travels to Milwaukee to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of an iconic brand, Harley-Davidson. In Los Angeles he finds the inspiring future of education, while in New York he confronts the dispiriting didacticism of the avant-garde. He ventures to the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to explore what we risk when we efface our own history. And on the outskirts of Chicago he investigates one of the darkest chapters in American history, only to discover a shining example of resilience and grace–the best the country has to offer.
Will’s wide lens takes in much more as well–everything from the “most emblematic novel of the 1930s” (and no, it is not about the Joads) to the cult of ESPN to Brooks Brothers and Ben & Jerry’s. And of course, One Man’s America would not be complete without the author’s insights on the national pastime, baseball–the icons and the cheats, the hapless and the greats.
Finally, in a personal and reflective turn, Will writes movingly of his thirty-five-year-old son Jon, born with Down syndrome, and pays loving and poignant tribute to his mother, who died at the age of ninety-eight after a long struggle with dementia.
The essays in One Man’s America, even when critiquing American culture, reflect Will’s deep affection and regard for our nation. After all, he notes, when America falls short, it does so only as compared to “the uniquely high standards it has set for itself.” In the end, this brilliantly informative and entertaining book reminds us of the enduring value of “the simple virtues and decencies that can make communities flourish and that have made America great and exemplary.”
...I cannot deny my past to which my self is wed, the woven figure cannot undo its thread.
Louis MacNeice, "Valediction"
These words express a truth of conservatism that has discomfited conservatives in the years covered by this volume. This collection of columns shows how, in the mid-1990s, conservatives fancied themselves poised to conduct a revolution, a radical reorientation of politics and governance. But in the late 1990s, they have discovered how resistant a complex nation is to being undone and rewoven.
In this volume, George F. Will, distinguished political columnist and cultural critic, examines many episodes of the conservative tribulations and the liberal accommodations to the new political landscape. These writings present a map of the landscape, a guide for people perplexed by the gap between contemporary political theories and practices.
With his customary linguistic flair and acerbic wit, Mr. Will tackles a wide range of subjects, including political correctness on college campuses; extreme fighting; the 1996 presidential campaign; judicial activism; ESPN; and Corvettes. These writings are history written on deadline, and together they constitute a richly woven tapestry of our era.