Magazine February 6, 2012, Issue

Acid Test

Detail of a photograph of Ambrose Bierce, October 7, 1892 (Public domain/Wikimedia)
Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs, edited by S. T. Joshi (Library of America, 880 pp., $35)

Everything changed for Ambrose Bierce the day he was shot in the head. At least that’s one theory about how a bright young man from Horse Cave Creek in Ohio went on to become his generation’s leading cynic. This was the guy, after all, who gave us The Devil’s Dictionary, which defined “PEACE” as “a period of cheating between two periods of fighting” and “WAR” as “a by-product of the arts of peace.” People still snicker over “MARRIAGE, n.: The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.”

The head

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

Mismanaged and lacking strategic direction, the Gingrich campaign may be in need of a leveraged buyout.


The Latest

The Great Elucidator

The Great Elucidator

An inspiring one-hour documentary about the conservative public intellectual Thomas Sowell serves as a superb intro to his thinking.