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Victor Davis Hanson

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Title: Victor Davis Hanson  
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Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson
Born (1953-09-05) September 5, 1953
Fowler, California, U.S.
Occupation Writer, Historian, Farmer
Nationality American
Subject Military history, Classics

Victor Davis Hanson (born September 5, 1953) is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a commentator on modern warfare and contemporary politics for National Review and other media outlets. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. [1] Hanson is perhaps best known for his 2001 book, Carnage and Culture.

Hanson was awarded the

  • Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers — Hanson's website; carries columns and essays by Hanson and colleagues
  • articlesNational ReviewHanson's — archive at National Review Online
  • Hoover Institution bio
  • Claremont Institute bio
  • The Sage of Fresno by Jonathan Kay, a media fellow at the Hoover Institution
  • Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA)
  • When Superpowers Lose — a review of Carnage and Culture from a socialist perspective
  • Thucydides vs. Victor Davis Hanson — article by John Taylor, who questions Hanson's scholarship and intellectual rigor
  • , September 28, 2003.Mexifornia: A State of Becoming interview with Hanson on Booknotes
  • interview with Hanson March 7, 2004In Depth
  • Interview with Rightwing News, Hanson discusses America's most controversial wars

External links

  1. ^ "Works and Days: Back to the Future?" by Victor Davis Hanson,, August 29, 2006
  2. ^ 2007 National Humanities Medal winners at the National Endowment for the Humanities' website
  3. ^ Hanson, Victor Davis (2003). Ripples of Battle.  
  4. ^ "VDH Private Papers" Victor Davis Hanson website, accessed August 8, 2010
  5. ^ "Do We Want Mexifornia?", Victor Davis Hanson, City Journal, Spring 2002
  6. ^ a b c "Classical Studies Program", California State University, Fresno
  7. ^ Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or SucceedDecline And Fall: A review of by Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Magazine, May 20, 2005
  8. ^ Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2001), 28.
  9. ^ Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2001), 157.
  10. ^ Interview, Proceedings, March 2003
  11. ^ 2008 Bradley Prize Winners at The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation's website
  12. ^ Bush pulls neocons out of the shadows Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2005
  13. ^ The end of the neo-cons? BBC News, February 9, 2009
  14. ^ a b The Neocon Slur, Victor Davis Hanson, July 12, 2008 (originally posted at Hanson's Works and Days blog)
  15. ^ Question Log on Hanson's website, February 2005
  16. ^ On Loathing Bush – It’s not about what he does, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, August 13, 2004
  17. ^ Myth or Reality – Will Iraq work? That’s up to us, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, April 23, 2004
  18. ^ Leave Rumsfeld Be – He is not to blame for our difficulties, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, December 23, 2004
  19. ^ It's not just about land by Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review, August 3, 2006
  20. ^ a b Victor Davis Hanson (December 15, 2006). "Israel did it!".  
  21. ^ Hugh Hewitt Show transcript, August 13, 2007
  22. ^ Fredric Smoler "Study of the War on Terrorism: The View from 400 B.C.," American Heritage, Nov./Dec. 2006.


  • Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece. University of California Press, 1983. ISBN 0-520-21025-5
  • The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece. Alfred A. Knopf, 1989. ISBN 0-394-57188-6
  • Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience, editor, Routledge, 1991. ISBN 0-415-04148-1
  • The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization, Free Press, 1995. ISBN 0-02-913751-9
  • Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea, Free Press, 1996. ISBN 0-684-82299-7
  • Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, with John Heath, Encounter Books, 2001. ISBN 1-893554-26-0
  • The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny, Free Press, 1999. ISBN 0-684-84502-4
  • The Wars of the Ancient Greeks: And the Invention of Western Military Culture, Cassell, 1999. ISBN 0-304-35222-5
  • The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer, Free Press, 2000. ISBN 0-684-84501-6
  • Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age, with John Heath and Bruce S. Thornton, ISI Books, 2001. ISBN 1-882926-54-4
  • Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power, Doubleday, 2001. ISBN 0-385-50052-1
    Published in the UK as Why the West Has Won: Carnage and Culture from Salamis to Vietnam, Faber, 2001. ISBN 0-571-20417-1
  • An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism, Anchor Books, 2002. ISBN 1-4000-3113-3
    A collection of essays, mostly from National Review, covering events occurring between September 11, 2001 and January 2002
  • Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, Encounter Books, 2003. ISBN 1-893554-73-2
  • Ripples of Battle: How Wars Fought Long Ago Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think, Doubleday, 2003. ISBN 0-385-50400-4
  • Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq, Random House, 2004. ISBN 0-8129-7273-2
    A collection of essays, mostly from National Review, covering events occurring between January 2002 and July 2003
  • A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, Random House, 2005.[22] ISBN 1-4000-6095-8
  • The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern, Bloomsbury Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60819-165-9
  • The End of Sparta: A Novel, Bloomsbury Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60819-164-2
  • The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost – From Ancient Greece to Iraq, Bloomsbury Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-6081-9163-5


Hanson has argued that the US should take a much more confrontational stance towards paper tiger. They really are."[21]

Confrontation with Iran

Hanson also questions how it is that "Jimmy Carter, silent about Iran's latest promotion for its planned holocaust, is hawking his latest book – in typical fashion, sorta, kinda alleging that the Israelis are like the South Africans in perpetuating an apartheid state, that they are cruel to many Christians, and, as occupiers, are understandably the targets of suicide bombers and other terrorist killers."[20]

In his article Israel did it, Hanson asks why Israel was being blamed for responding to attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas that shelled Israel for a few months with deadly rockets while the world was watching indifferently. He explains that if there were not so many civilian casualties inside Israel, it was not from the lack of trying: "Israel was to be blamed because its hundreds of air strikes against combatants were lethal, while Hezbollah was to be excused for shooting off thousands of rockets aimed at civilians because of its relative incompetence."[20]

Israeli–Arab conflict

Hanson believed that the Iraq War was a good and worthwhile undertaking and was, on the whole, a laudable success. However, he stated in 2008 that he "disagreed with many of the decisions made about the Iraq war," such as the dissolution of the old Iraqi army.[14]

Iraq War

On the issues pertaining to the constant political turmoil in the Middle East, Hanson emphasises the lack of individual and political freedom in many Middle Eastern nations as a major factor retarding economic, technological and cultural progress. He further relates the root cause of radical Islamic terrorism to insecurities and a need to regain honor and pride.[19]

Hanson was a strong defender of George W. Bush and his policies,[16] especially the Iraq war.[17] He was also a vocal supporter of Bush's Secretary of Defense [18]

He has been described as a neoconservative by some commentators,[12][13] and has stated that: "I came to support neocon approaches first in the wars against the Taliban and Saddam, largely because I saw little alternative."[14] Hanson writes: "The Democratic Party reminds me of the Republicans circa 1965 or so – impotent, shrill, no ideas, conspiratorial, reactive, out-of-touch with most Americans, isolationist, and full of embarrassing spokesmen."[15]

Hanson also writes a weekly column, for the National Review and has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary,, City Journal, The American Spectator, Policy Review, the Claremont Review of Books, and The Weekly Standard. Hanson was awarded the Claremont Institute's Statesmanship Award at its annual Churchill Dinner, and the $250,000 Bradley prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2008.[11]

Hanson is a registered member of the 2000 and 2004 elections.[10]

Political views

Hanson and Heath blame the academic classicists themselves for the decline, accusing them of becoming so infected with political correctness and postmodern thinking, not to mention egoism and money-grubbing (grants, visiting professorships, conference-hopping, promotion based on unreadable publications), that they have lost sight of what Hanson and Heath feel the classics truly represent. They say it this way, "the study of Greek in the last twenty years became a profession, a tiny world—but a world of sorts nonetheless—of jets, conferences, publicity, jargon, and perks".[9]

Hanson co-authored the book Who Killed Homer? with John Heath. This book explores the issue of how classical education has declined in the US and what might be done to restore it to its former place. This is important, according to Hanson and Heath, because knowledge of the classical Greeks and Romans is necessary to fully understand Western culture. To begin a discussion along these lines the authors state, "The answer to why the world is becoming Westernized goes all the way back to the wisdom of the Greeks—reason enough why we must not abandon the study of our heritage".[8]

United States education and classical studies

Though Carnage and Culture appeared before the September 11, 2001 attacks, its message that the "Western way of war" will ultimately prevail made the book a best-seller in the wake of those events. Immediately after 9/11, Carnage and Culture was re-issued with a new afterword by Hanson in which he explicitly stated that the United States government would win its "War on Terror" for the reasons stated in the book.

Carnage and Culture examines nine battles throughout history, each of which is used to illustrate a particular aspect of Western culture that Hanson believes contributes to the dominance of Western warfare. The battles or campaigns recounted (with themes in parenthesis) are the Battle of Salamis (480 BC; free citizens), the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC; the decisive battle of annihilation), the Battle of Cannae (216 BC; civic militarism), the Battle of Tours/Poitiers (732; infantry), the Battle of Tenochtitlan (1521; technology and reason), the Battle of Lepanto (1571; capitalism), the Battle of Rorke's Drift (1879; discipline), the Battle of Midway (1942; individualism), and the Tet Offensive (1968; dissent).

According to Hanson, Western values such as political freedom, capitalism, individualism, democracy, scientific inquiry, rationalism, and open debate form an especially lethal combination when applied to warfare. Non-Western societies can win the occasional victory when warring against a society with these Western values, writes Hanson, but the "Western way of war" will prevail in the long run. Hanson emphasizes that Western warfare is not necessarily more (or less) moral than war as practiced by other cultures; his argument is simply that the "Western way of war" is unequalled in its devastation and decisiveness.

Hanson is perhaps best known for his 2001 book, Carnage and Culture, published in some nations (e.g. Australia) as Why the West Has Won, in which he argued that the military dominance of Western Civilization, beginning with the ancient Greeks, is the result of certain fundamental aspects of Western culture, such as consensual government and individualism. Hanson rejects racial explanations for this military preeminence, and disagrees as well with environmental or geographical explanations such as put forth by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel.[7]

Carnage and Culture

Hanson cites the military history, Hanson cites John Keegan as being influential, and shares a mutual admiration with fellow classicist Donald Kagan and the historian Steven Ozment.


[6] Hanson writes a weekly column

In 1991 Hanson was awarded an American Philological Association's Excellence in Teaching Award, which is awarded to undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin.[6] He has been a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991–92), National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992–93), as well as holding the visiting Shifrin Chair of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002–03).

Hanson is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Fellow in California Studies at the Claremont Institute, and professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno,[6] where he began teaching in 1984, having created the classics program at that institution.

Hanson, who is of Swedish descent, grew up on a family farm at Selma, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His mother was a lawyer and judge, his father an educator and college administrator. Hanson's father and uncle played college football at the College of the Pacific under Amos Alonzo Stagg.[3] Along with his older brother Nils and fraternal twin Alfred, Hanson attended public schools and graduated from Selma High School. Hanson received his BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1975[4] and his PhD in classics from Stanford University in 1980. He is a Protestant Christian.[5]

Early life, education and today


  • Early life, education and today 1
  • Writing 2
    • Carnage and Culture 2.1
    • United States education and classical studies 2.2
  • Political views 3
    • Iraq War 3.1
    • Israeli–Arab conflict 3.2
    • Confrontation with Iran 3.3
  • Works 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

. agrarianism) and a critic of social trends related to farming and Selma, California grapes on a family farm in raisin Hanson is also a farmer (growing [2]

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