Bradley J. Birzer

About Bradley J. Birzer

Bradley J. Birzer is the co-founder of, and Senior Contributor at, The Imaginative Conservative. He is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and Fellow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Dr. Birzer is author of In Defense of Andrew Jackson (Regnery, 2018), Russell Kirk: American Conservative, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll, Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, co-editor of The American Democrat and Other Political Writings by James Fenimore Cooper, and co-author of The American West.

Living With Tolkien

By |2019-05-23T22:08:33-05:00May 23rd, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Character, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series|

J.R.R. Tolkien connected me to a world beyond anything I had yet experienced in rather idyllic Kansas. I so desperately wanted to escape into his mountain scene, explore every nook and cranny of that invented world, and meet a God who sang the universe into existence. Though I have read The Hobbit, The Lord [...]

Cicero’s Republic: Three in One

By |2019-05-20T22:42:13-05:00May 20th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Cicero, Cicero's Republic Series, Civil Society, Government, Senior Contributors|

A republic, by its very essence, imitates the highest of creation: man endowed with understanding and free will. Yet, in this greatest of strengths also resides the deepest of weaknesses. When the people enjoy true liberty, they often fail to identify its source, admiring its effects rather than its causes. In particular, they misunderstand [...]

Cicero’s Republic: Implanted in the Nature of Man

By |2019-05-17T22:01:44-05:00May 17th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Cicero, Cicero's Republic Series, Civil Society, Civilization, Senior Contributors|

The best society, Cicero argues, cultivates us as free individuals for the benefit of the community. Virtue exists in every being, but few realize it or cultivate it. Yet, it is what makes men, men, and allows them to be free. Usually remembered for his political triumphs and defeats as well as for his [...]

Measuring the Influence of Russell Kirk and Other Conservative Authors

By |2019-05-17T10:22:05-05:00May 12th, 2019|Categories: Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Eric Voegelin, Irving Babbitt, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

By using Google’s Ngram Viewer, we find that Russell Kirk’s reputation hit its highpoint in 1964, and then began a painful decline that remained unabated until his death in 1994. What does Ngram tell us about other conservative authors, like Robert Nisbet, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Christopher Dawson? While I would never consider [...]

Seeking the Humane: Big Big Train’s “Grand Tour”

By |2019-05-09T22:58:30-05:00May 9th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Europe, Music, Senior Contributors|

On its new album, Grand Tour, Big Big Train considers everything from the NASA ship Voyager's leaving the solar system, to the nineteenth-century romantic interpretation of The Tempest, to the meaning of one of the greatest saints of late antiquity, St. Theodora. The album really is about human exploration of self and of world. There [...]

Leviathan, Inc.: Robert Nisbet & the Modern Nation-State

By |2019-05-05T22:21:55-05:00May 5th, 2019|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

Robert Nisbet feared that modern totalitarians had succeeded in undermining the very foundations of goodness, truth, and morality. They had not only redefined liberty as power, but they had transformed the modern political state into a secular church, exchanging real religion for civic religion, creating a “New Leviathan.” Like most Americans during the Great [...]

America’s Urban Nightmare: Gotham City

By |2019-05-03T22:57:53-05:00May 3rd, 2019|Categories: Batman Series, Bradley J. Birzer, Civilization, Culture, Senior Contributors|

Behind all the sin and the struggle for good is the all-important backdrop, Gotham City, perhaps Robert Kane and Bill Finger’s second greatest creation after the Batman himself. If Batman represents the action hero and ultimate humanist, Gotham is the ultimate surrealist, expressionist, nihilistic noir city and stage. Gotham is a nightmare city, once [...]

The Dynamic Duo: The Controversy Over Batman’s Creators

By |2019-05-03T11:23:03-05:00April 26th, 2019|Categories: Batman Series, Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, History, Senior Contributors|

Exactly how much of The Bat-man came from Bob Kane and how much came from Bill Finger remains in doubt and, fascinatingly, remains a point of contention among historians, biographers, and, especially, comic fans. In his 1989 memoir, Batman and Me, Kane presents himself in the narrative as the main creator, but after describing [...]

Political Parties During the American Founding Era?

By |2019-04-25T10:48:28-05:00April 22nd, 2019|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, History, Politics, Senior Contributors|

Contrary to the vast majority of my fellow scholars of American history, I have never found the account of the creation of political parties in the Founding Era and Early Republic to be credible. Admittedly, my position is one of an extremely small minority, so I do not mean to suggest that historians are ready [...]

Bob Kane and Bill Finger: Batman’s Creators

By |2019-05-03T11:24:01-05:00April 5th, 2019|Categories: Batman Series, Bradley J. Birzer, Character, History, Senior Contributors, Superheroes|

Though somewhat disputed as to just how much each person contributed to the creation of the character and backstory of The Batman, both Robert Kane (born Robert Kahn; 1915-1998), as credited in the first story, and Milton Bill Finger (1914-1974), not credited, invented the character. The two had actually teamed up during the several [...]

Batman and the Rise of the American Superhero

By |2019-04-05T14:00:06-05:00March 29th, 2019|Categories: Batman Series, Bradley J. Birzer, Character, Heroism, History, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

Against the suffocating world of Nazism, communism, Holocaust camps, and gulags, imagination found a new life in the 1940s and 1950s, as artists strove for a renewal of beauty, goodness, and truth. It is only in this context that one can understand the rise of the “superhero,” among whom none have endured as well [...]

C.S. Lewis and the Truth of Balder

By |2019-03-22T14:11:46-05:00March 22nd, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christianity, Myth, Religion, Senior Contributors, Truth|

C.S. Lewis’ famous conversation with Hugo Dyson and J.R.R. Tolkien, allowed him, for the first time in his life, to see that Christianity expresses not just myth, but true myth, something profoundly real, “a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened.” [...]

Nietzsche and the Short Nineteenth Century

By |2019-03-15T20:51:53-05:00March 18th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, History, Modernity, Philosophy, Senior Contributors|

As Christopher Dawson argued, the nineteenth century proved a short century. When the century began, Thomas Jefferson delivered his gorgeous blueprint for a liberal republican world in the form of the first inaugural address. “But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the [...]