Matthew Anger

About Matthew Anger

Matthew Anger resides in Richmond, Virginia. He is a commentator on cultural and historical topics and editor of The Eyewitness: An Anthology of Short Stories & Historical Fiction by Hilaire Belloc.

Return to Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street

By |2014-01-21T10:37:17-05:00September 22nd, 2013|Categories: Books, Fiction, Mystery, Sherlock Holmes|Tags: |

A type of book which we hardly seem to produce in these days, but which flowered with great richness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is what Chesterton called the ‘good bad book’: that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions [...]

An Imperfect Genius: Footnotes to George Orwell

By |2014-01-21T10:38:08-05:00September 13th, 2013|Categories: George Orwell, Socialism|Tags: |

George Orwell It is ironic that more than a half century after George Orwell’s death, the famous socialist pundit is perhaps most appreciated by political conservatives. This fact highlights his ambivalent intellectual legacy. But something should also be said about Orwell’s literary legacy, lest we overlook the shortcomings of an otherwise brilliant author. Liam Julian [...]

Philipp von Boeselager: Remembering the Plot Against Hitler

By |2014-01-09T15:39:38-05:00July 20th, 2013|Categories: World War II|Tags: |

Philipp von Boeselager This July 20th marks the 69th anniversary of the plot by German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler, a story nicely retold in the 2008 film Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer. Shortly after the movie’s release a memoir by a surviving conspirator, Philipp von Boeselager (1917-2008), appeared in English under [...]

Ernst Jünger’s Vision of War

By |2014-03-26T17:23:01-05:00July 6th, 2013|Categories: Books|Tags: , , |

Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front has created an indelible image of the First World War in the popular mind. Ernst Jünger’s memoir Storm of Steel does not fundamentally alter that tortured landscape. If anything, his account is even more harrowing. Yet there is a difference, which is highlighted in the [...]

Gulliver’s Final Voyages

By |2019-02-07T11:14:54-05:00May 4th, 2013|Categories: Books, Literature, Moral Imagination|Tags: , , |

Samuel Johnson famously said of Gulliver’s Travels: “When once you have thought of big men and little men, it is very easy to do the rest.” It is a flippant verdict, yet it’s true that most people lose interest in Swift’s tale after the first and second voyages (to Lilliput, land of small people, [...]

The Relevance of Albert Speer: Decent Citizens in an Indecent Society?

By |2014-01-09T15:45:14-05:00April 26th, 2013|Categories: Books, Ideology|Tags: , , |

Albert Speer’s career is a microcosm of the decent (but philosophically agnostic) citizen living in an indecent (and ideologically fanatical) society. Speer served as Hitler’s chief architect, and during the Second World War was Germany’s minister of armaments. As such, Speer was a leading technocrat in a totalitarian state. While 21st century America is [...]

The Nazi Planet: Patterns of Force

By |2014-01-21T10:41:29-05:00October 22nd, 2011|Categories: Politics, Star Trek|Tags: |

There are few episodes from the original Star Trek series (1966-69) that I do not enjoy. But one that contains a thoughtful message beneath the thriller storyline is “Patterns of Force” from the show’s second season. Following on the popularity of the parallel Earth theme—including a gangster planet and a Roman planet—the producers came [...]

Plutarch’s Life Studies: for Everybody

By |2015-05-19T23:19:52-05:00October 9th, 2011|Categories: Books, Classics, Culture, Plutarch|Tags: |

This past year my two oldest boys (high school age) read Plutarch’s biographical essays on Solon, Pericles, Alexander and Caesar. One of my sons loved it, the other was much more grumpy about the exercise, but I think some of it rubbed off. There was even an unexpected trickle-down effect. One day my 10-year-old daughter [...]

Orwell’s Television

By |2014-01-21T10:45:05-05:00October 6th, 2011|Categories: Culture|Tags: |

Orwell got it partly right. But it’s not the use of two-way monitors that would impose social uniformity and mental numbness in modern society. Rather, I think it is the sheer ubiquity of the old-fashioned one-way TV set. Granted I’m not a Luddite. I love my DVDs. But the difference here is that I [...]

Back to the Drawing Board: Reflections on Postmodernism in Architecture

By |2014-01-21T10:47:18-05:00October 3rd, 2011|Categories: Culture|Tags: |

An exhibit at the state library in Richmond, Never Built Virginia documents architectural designs that never made it off the drawing board. Ranging in designs from prosaic 19th century churches to ugly modern high rises, the exhibit forms an interesting cultural and aesthetic chronicle. There are a few items which stand out, like the magnificent Greco-Roman [...]

Children’s History and Communist Fiction

By |2014-01-21T10:48:09-05:00September 29th, 2011|Categories: Books|Tags: |

Stupid bias in books is ubiquitous, but it is particularly obvious in children’s literature. There is a reason for that. Not only are most works of popularized history and social sciences low brow, but the level of juvenile books is even lower. For that reason I give my twelve-year-old credit for spotting the obvious [...]

Books That Make Us Human: Matthew Anger

By |2014-01-09T16:12:45-05:00September 16th, 2011|Categories: Books, Books that Make Us Human, Conservatism, Western Civilization|Tags: |

1. Life of Johnson by James Boswell–Hilaire Belloc calls it the book one can read “in pretty well any circumstances…save shipwreck.” Johnson himself put a high value on the “history of manners” and everyday life. A good biography is not hagiography. Samuel Johnson was a flawed figure, yet one clearly deserving of our admiration. It is hard [...]

The Virtues and Vices of Courage: Josef Pieper:

By |2014-01-08T21:01:44-05:00June 28th, 2011|Categories: Virtue|Tags: , |

Josef Pieper “Fortitude without justice is a source of evil.”—St. Thomas Aquinas The great moralists tell us that a person’s strength is often the source of his greatest weakness, whether it is business acumen, artistic creativity, or physical excellence. Any of these things can be exercised too much or in the wrong [...]

Tom Watson, Populist

By |2017-06-22T16:33:05-05:00January 26th, 2011|Categories: History, Populism|Tags: |

Politics was [for Watson]… a potent magic whereby a distraught and oppressed people might conjure up forgotten, as well as imaginary, grandeurs, unite with intense purpose, and cast off their oppressors.—C. Vann Woodward Tom Watson Paul Greenberg has described the Pulitzer Prize winning historian C. Vann Woodward as the “quintessential quiet Southerner.” [...]