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May 27, 2003

Who is Victor Davis Hanson?

Laura Secor writing in the Boston Globe tells us.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON leads a double life. A fifth-generation raisin farmer in California's fertile Central Valley, Hanson is also a historian of ancient Greece, a lyrical defender of American agrarianism, and a prolific contributor to conservative opinion magazines. His columns so caught the fancy of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that he has enjoyed audiences with both. It's hard to say which is stranger: that a raisin farmer should exert such influence, or that a classics scholar should.

It helps that one of Hanson's areas of academic expertise coincides with the national agenda: war.

''Carnage and Culture,'' his recent book arguing that the West has produced a uniquely effective military culture thanks to inherited Greek values, was a New York Times bestseller and a particular favorite of Vice President Cheney.

These are confusing times, and Hanson wields a few simple ideas with blunt force. Western culture, in his view, emanates from ancient Greece and prizes consensual government, private markets, self-criticism, and rational inquiry. Where such values are found, political, economic, and military preeminence follow. The non-Western world lags behind the West because it does not share in the Greek cultural legacy, having opted instead for despotism, theocracy, illiberal markets, and the plain old laziness that has men whiling away afternoons playing backgammon in the cafes of the Middle East. MORE
If you love his work, and who doesn't, you'll enjoy reading about his ideas and background.