John Willson

John Willson

About John Willson

John Willson is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is professor of history emeritus, Hillsdale College. His work has been published in Modern Age, Imprimis, and the University Bookman, and he contributed to Reflections on the French Revolution. Dr. Willson is past President of the Philadelphia Society.

Tools: Work Done Right

By |2019-09-02T22:46:51-06:00November 14th, 2013|Categories: Books, History, John Willson, Labor/Work|

Norm Abram’s little book Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter (Little, Brown, 1996) is, I was about to say, a minor classic on the building arts. But I must revise that opinion. It is a true classic, a book that fathers should read with their sons. It contains seventy-six chapters in [...]

Speaking of Bow Ties…and Real Shaving

By |2014-01-22T14:26:02-06:00July 29th, 2013|Categories: Culture, John Willson|

In the early 1980s, I became one of six men in the Western World who knew how to tie a bow tie, all by myself, and I did not know who the other five were. I ceased wearing them after a colleague said to me, “John, you look like a…Liberal!”  Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. had [...]

Home: The Little Things

By |2014-01-16T22:09:27-06:00June 25th, 2013|Categories: Community, Conservation, John Willson|Tags: |

I was out driving this morning, doing some errands. A car ahead of me was going about 30 in a 55 speed limit zone, and as usual I was annoyed. Going so slow, I was forced to look around. I saw businesses working, signs that told me where I was. A man who recently [...]

The Smart Take from the Strong: The Basketball Philosophy of Pete Carril

By |2014-01-16T16:33:02-06:00April 19th, 2013|Categories: Books, Character, John Willson, Pete Carril|Tags: |

The Smart Take from the Strong: The Basketball Philosophy of Pete Carril by Pete Carril Bad shooters are always open.–Pete Carril Dr. Pete Carril is a bit of a snob. I emphasize the “Dr.” because last year Princeton, the school at which he coached basketball for twenty-nine years, awarded him the honorary degree, Doctor of [...]

1913: Worst. Year. Ever.

By |2015-11-17T08:55:04-06:00March 13th, 2013|Categories: Culture, John Willson|

A few days ago I decided to put together an anecdotal word-picture of what life was like in the United States in 1913, mostly to amuse my grandchildren. My grandfather Willson’s cousin Gertrude was keeping an occasional diary during that period, primarily to record the astonishing changes that seemed to be taking place in [...]

Bombing of Dresden: Love and Death in the Ashes

By |2019-02-07T12:08:33-06:00February 17th, 2013|Categories: Faith, John Willson, War|

February 13th & 14th were the 68th anniversary of one of the cruelest allied acts of World War II, which most Americans still consider our Good War. On Tuesday evening, February 13, 1945, and for much of the next day, British and American heavy bombers pulverized the defenseless city of Dresden, Germany. The destruction [...]

Conservative Angst Continues

By |2014-01-21T11:40:00-06:00January 11th, 2013|Categories: Conservatism, John Willson, Politics|

The most recent one, from James Kurth, we at The Imaginative Conservative must take seriously. Dr. Kurth is a veteran teacher and writer, not about the ephemera of American politics (aren’t you sick to death of “pundits” and other self-important journalists?), but about serious matters of national defense, military and strategic affairs, international politics, [...]

EdBOX: Classrooms and the Republic

By |2013-12-27T17:46:29-06:00December 28th, 2012|Categories: Architecture, Education, John Willson|Tags: |

“The ideal classroom is a student driving an automobile with Russell Kirk in the passenger seat.” —Stephen Masty (I made that up, but it’s what he would say) The EarthBOX is a marvelous invention. In a small, controlled environment one can grow vegetables and flowers in great splendor with very little effort. It’s a plastic container [...]

Teacher: Notes from an Old Professor

By |2015-05-27T13:22:40-06:00December 18th, 2012|Categories: Education, Featured, John Willson|

I was driving into our church parking lot the other day, thinking about a nice essay by Douglas Minson on the 79th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. I’m sure glad it happened about seven years before I was born. Anyway, it occurred to me that I had completed an anniversary just a few [...]

Gifts for Imaginative Conservatives: Be Traditional-Give a Gun for Christmas

By |2014-12-10T11:16:40-06:00December 8th, 2012|Categories: Christmas, Gifts for Imaginative Conservatives, John Willson|Tags: , |

The historian Michael Bellesiles tried to usher in the new millennium by claiming that guns were scarce in colonial America and even beyond. The problem was, it was quite easy to show that his research was flawed and his conclusions nonsensical. It wasn’t the first time that an historian with an agenda was found [...]

Charlie Brown Conservatives

By |2014-11-07T08:23:18-06:00December 6th, 2012|Categories: Conservatism, Culture, John Willson, Tradition|

There is a cartoon that has, as they say, “gone viral” on the internet in the last two weeks or so. It’s one of the oldest threads from the Schultz empire, and one never tires of its utterly predictable and utterly funny ending. Lucy the capitalist progressive always wins, and Charlie Brown never learns. [...]

A Theology of Football

By |2018-09-20T14:34:57-06:00October 30th, 2012|Categories: Featured, John Willson, Sports, Theology|

Knute Rockne “College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity.” — H.L. Mencken, 1922 We will [...]

Misuse of a Metaphor: In Search of the City on a Hill

By |2014-01-07T09:07:40-06:00September 7th, 2012|Categories: Books, John Willson|Tags: |

A review of Richard M. Gamble, In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth. New York: Continuum/Bloomsbury Academic, 2012. Mythology, n. The body of a primitive people’s beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it [...]

All Right There Are Two Nations

By |2014-01-06T11:49:02-06:00July 7th, 2012|Categories: Culture, John Willson|

 (This is for Brad Birzer, who threatened to be cranky.) Just after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, the novelist John Dos Passos said, “All right we are two nations.”  Dos Passos was still a socialist America hater at the time, and seemed to represent the future in a year that Calvin [...]