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, 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.

10 Ancient Books That Influenced Stoicism

By |2021-05-05T18:20:25-05:00May 5th, 2021|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Philosophy, Senior Contributors, Stoicism|

“A book is a word spoken into creation. Its message goes out into the world. It cannot be taken back,” Michael O’Brien warned as well as assured in his magisterial novel, Sophia House. Just as each word is a reflection of The Word (Logos), so each book is a reflection of The Book. While Christians [...]

Machiavelli: The Prince of Darkness?

By |2021-05-02T16:00:52-05:00May 2nd, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Political Philosophy, Politics, Timeless Essays|

Niccolò Machiavelli openly embraced the use of power and utility over the restraint and charity of love and dignity. In Machiavelli’s corruption, “prudence” came to mean knowledge of when to choose good and when to choose evil. In his magisterial Roots of American Order, Russell Kirk tried to put the Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter Reformation [...]

Russell Kirk Reconsidered

By |2021-04-28T15:49:35-05:00April 28th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors, The Conservative Mind, Timeless Essays, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

Russell Kirk gave voice to a myriad of persons, personalities, and ideas circulating in the decade after the Second World War, just as the West was trying to understand what it stood for, rather than what it stood against. The latter was easy. Communism and fascism were evil. But, what exactly did the West stand [...]

10 C.S. Lewis Books Every Imaginative Conservative Should Read

By |2021-04-19T16:19:36-05:00April 19th, 2021|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Imaginative Conservative Books, Senior Contributors|

Few would dispute the claim that C.S. Lewis was the last century’s greatest Christian apologist, rivaled only by G.K. Chesterton and Pope John Paul II. While all three wrote voluminously, Lewis’s books had the broadest appeal. Even atheists read Lewis’s Christian books, if only for the art of them. Surely, we can do better than [...]

10 Books Every Imaginative Conservative Should Read

By |2021-04-22T10:04:02-05:00April 12th, 2021|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Imaginative Conservative Books, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative|

So, you’re attracted to imaginative conservatism, and you’re wondering how such a school of thought came about. The roots, to be sure, are planted firmly in the first half of the twentieth century as a number of diverse thinkers strove to fight populism and progressivism (left and right, gentle and severe) in all their myriad [...]

Owen Barfield’s Commonwealth of the Spirit

By |2021-03-30T15:27:10-05:00March 31st, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Community, Inklings, Senior Contributors|

Owen Barfield called upon the men of the Western world to form themselves into a “commonwealth of the spirit” in which there is no copyright. To create a commonwealth of the soul, we need to know the limits and range of individualism as well as the limits and range of national character. Shortly after Great [...]

Owen Barfield’s “History, Guilt, and Habit”

By |2021-04-27T22:01:03-05:00March 25th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, History, Modernity, Senior Contributors|

Vague collective guilt leads to societal disorder and societal evils greater than the ones that originally caused the problems. Owen Barfield suggests that by re-imagining not only the glorious dignity of each individual person but also by recognizing the sin of which the person is capable, we can move out of the deadly cycle of [...]

John Winthrop as Imaginative Conservative

By |2021-04-22T09:35:36-05:00March 14th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Community, History, Senior Contributors, The Imaginative Conservative|

Though rooted in a certain time and a certain place, elements of John Winthrop’s teachings are timeless, and, whether we agree with him completely or not, we should recognize him as an important and imaginative conservative of yesteryear. Between 1629 and 1640, roughly 21,000 Puritans (and servants) immigrated from England (especially East Anglia) to New [...]

Bill Buckley’s Mischievous Magazine

By |2021-03-08T20:53:12-06:00March 8th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Media, Senior Contributors|

'National Review' magazine remains my constant companion, even when I sometimes disagree with her. Indeed, NR's mission has been just and worthy, as she has remained adamantly anti-communist, pro-life, and just about right on every social issue, while accommodating the variety of “sects” within the American conservative movement. Sometime around 1981 or so, Bill Buckley [...]

Robert Nisbet’s “The Social Group in French Thought”

By |2021-02-24T19:24:01-06:00February 24th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Civilization, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Political Philosophy, Politics, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

In “The Social Group in French Thought,” Robert Nisbet explains that social philosophers such as Bodin, Hobbes, and Rousseau undermined and sabotaged private law and intermediary institutions. Their thought culminated in the French Revolution and in its radical and nationalist legislation. Robert Nisbet’s dissertation began by lamenting that the history of freedom has been written [...]

Robert Nisbet’s Chance Dissertation

By |2021-02-22T14:06:47-06:00February 22nd, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

Robert Nisbet had written and completed his dissertation, “The Social Group in French Thought,” rather speedily, beginning it in January 1939 and finishing it a mere six months later. Though Nisbet would publish his most famous work, “The Quest for Community,” fourteen years later, that book would not have been possible without the dissertation. When [...]

Is “Christian Humanism” Gone Forever?

By |2021-02-11T13:00:07-06:00February 11th, 2021|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Senior Contributors, T.S. Eliot|

In his book “The Year of Our Lord 1943,” writing on Christian humanism, Alan Jacobs considers the fears and desires of five major but seemingly disparate figures in 1943 as they envision a post-war world after an allied victory: W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil. The Year of Our Lord [...]

Robert Nisbet’s Youth

By |2021-02-05T11:05:29-06:00February 5th, 2021|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

Growing up in Maricopa, the young Robert Nisbet fell deeply in love with libraries. Almost as soon as he learned to read—sitting on his mother’s lap as she read to him—the young man began to devour books voraciously, loving the literature of the Age of Coolidge. Though proudly possessing the Confederate soul of a southern [...]

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