The Corner

The Right Historians

I thought this email might spark a useful conversation in the Corner. And given that it’s fundraising week, it might help remind some folks of what a great resource the Corner is.


I’m hoping you can help me out with a question that’s been bugging me for some time. As a busy conservative father of three, I do my best to stay ‘in the loop’ on current issues through a number of websites, talk radio shows, and tv shows that I won’t take up your time with here.

As someone who is also interested in our nation’s history, over the last few years I’ve begun reading up on American history, including biographies of historical figures — Adams, Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, etc. Here’s my issue — just as there are liberal and conservative columnists, the same has is obviously true for authors. Not having the time to thoroughly research, I’m never sure (until I start reading), whether a given biography is going to be tainted by the author’s liberal worldview.

So in short, my question is this : Where could I go to get a list of books relating to American history which have been written by authors with our conservative perspective? Does such a list exist? If not, if you wouldn’t mind providing your take on what would belong on such a list I would greatly appreciate it. I would guess that such a list would be extremely valuable to a great number of conservative Americans who share my question.

Thanks very much for your time.

First let me say that some liberal historians are worth reading because they are good historians. I discussed a few of them here. There are other historians I like a lot but I have no idea what they think about modern ideological disputes.

Second, I think everyone who reads the Corner should know that our own Rick Brookhiser is a first class historian who has written precisely the sort of books the reader seems to be interested in. Other NR writers and friends such as Steve Hayward, George Nash (now with a new book out that looks great), David Pryce-Jones, Paul Johnson and others are always reliably conservative though not necessarily reliably predictable. I’m sure I’m leaving out others.

[Update!] I was! Victor Davis Hanson! Jeez. Stupid of me. Serves me right for doing this off the top of my jead.

Third, it’s a bit far afield, but if you’re looking for historical fiction you have to consider John Miller’s new tour de force.

Fourth, I have some favorite historians (or authors on historical questions) and some of them are conservative or non-liberal. A few off the top of my head: John Lukacs, Paul Johnson, Hayward, Pryce-Jones, Nash, David Pietrusza, Vincent Cannato, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Paul Hollander, James Pierson, Robert Conquest and others.

But, I should confess that I am not a huge reader of biographies (as much as I wish it were otherwise). I tend to read intellectual history more than military or biographical history. Moreover, I’m sure I’m leaving out many, many authors and historians. Several of my colleagues are more expert on such things: I know Rick Brookhiser, Mike Potemra and John Miller know a lot more than I do in this regard. So I figured I’d throw the topic into the Corner and let everyone have at it.