Nullifiers and insurrectionists

America’s antigovernment tradition

A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government, by Garry Wills

American intellectuals worthy of the name are thin on the ground these days—hard to find amidst swarms of academics incapable of addressing wide audiences and media pundits capable of addressing them only in clichés. Garry Wills has for years stood out among those few critics able to convey complex arguments to a broad readership. Journalist, historian, biographer, newspaper columnist and sometime college professor, he has proved equally at home with the theology of St. Augustine and the movies of John Wayne. His studies of the American founding and of such iconic presidents as Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan are on the short shelf of books indispensable to an understanding of American political culture. He is the closest thing we have nowadays to Walter Lippmann.

 

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