Garry Wills

Garry Wills

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Garry Wills is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and prolific author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

, journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

, and historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

, specializing in American politics
American politics
American politics is an area of study within the academic discipline of political science. It is primarily, but not exclusively, studied by researchers in the United States...

, American political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 and ideology and the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. Classically trained at a Jesuit high school and two universities, he is proficient in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Latin. He has written nearly 40 books and since 1973 has been a frequent reviewer for the New York Review of Books.

Starting as a conservative and early protégé of William F. Buckley, Jr as a young man, Wills became increasingly liberal through the 1960s, driven by his coverage of the civil rights
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 and the anti-Vietnam War movements. Although a practicing Catholic, he has been an excoriating critic of the Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and its policies and theology, such as those criticized as part of the Mater si, magistra no
Mater si, magistra no
Mater si, magistra no is a macaronic phrase that means Catholics need not follow all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in regard to economic justice or the rights of workers...

challenge. Wills feels that while the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects free speech, the Second Amendment does not protect the right to keep and bear arms.

Life and career


Wills was born in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 and grew up in Michigan and Wisconsin, graduating from Campion High School
Campion High School
Campion Jesuit High School was a Jesuit-run boarding school for boys in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin named for the Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion. The school operated from its founding in 1880 until closing in 1975, and educated several notable figures during its existence. The former school's campus...

, a Jesuit institution, in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Prairie du Chien is a city in and the county seat of Crawford County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 5,911 at the 2010 census. Its Zip Code is 53821....

 in 1951. He entered and then left the Jesuit order. He earned a B.A. from Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University is a private, co-educational Jesuit university located in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Founded in 1818 by the Most Reverend Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg SLU is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River. It is one of 28 member institutions of the...

 in 1957 and an M.A. from Xavier University in 1958. William F. Buckley, Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
William Frank Buckley, Jr. was an American conservative author and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing was noted for...

 hired him as a drama critic for National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

magazine at the age of 23. He received his PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 from Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 in 1961, and taught history at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 from 1962 to 1980.

Ideologically, he started out his adult life as a conservative, but through the 1960s he became more and more a liberal, driven by covering the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement. When he first became involved with National Review he did not know if he was a conservative, calling himself a "distributionist
Distributism
Distributism is a third-way economic philosophy formulated by such Catholic thinkers as G. K...

."

His biography of president Richard M. Nixon, Nixon Agonistes (1970) landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents
Master list of Nixon political opponents
A master list of Nixon political opponents was compiled to supplement the original Nixon's Enemies List of 20 key people considered opponents of President Richard Nixon. The master list was compiled by Charles Colson's office and sent in memorandum form to John Dean. Dean later provided this...

.

Wills joined the faculty of the history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 department at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

 in 1980, where he is currently an emeritus professor. His home in Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

 is "filled with books", with a converted bedroom dedicated to English literature, another containing Latin literature and books on American political thought, one hallway full of books on economics and religion, "including four shelves on St. Augustine
St. Augustine
-People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...

", and another with shelves of Greek literature and philosophy.

He has three children: John Wills, Garry Wills, and Lydia Wills.

Pius IX controversy


In 2000, Wills wrote Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, a work critical of the papacy of Pius IX at a time when the Pope was being scheduled for beatification
Beatification
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

. Wills was also critical of the papacy of Pius XII; his criticisms were denounced as unfair by Rabbi David G. Dalin
David G. Dalin
David G. Dalin is an American Conservative rabbi and historian, is the author, co-author, or editor of ten books on American Jewish history and politics, and Jewish-Christian relations. He is currently a professor of history and politics at Ave Maria University, in Florida...

 in the book The Myth of Hitler's Pope
The Myth of Hitler's Pope
The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis is a book written by American historian and Rabbi David G. Dalin and published in 2005 by Regnery Publishing.- Background :...

.

Awards


He won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
The Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction has been awarded since 1962 for a distinguished book of non-fiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in another category.-1960s:...

for Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (1993), which describes the background and effect of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

 on November 19, 1863. He was awarded the National Medal for the Humanities
National Humanities Medal
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.The award, given by the...

 in 1998. He has twice won the National Book Critics Circle Award
National Book Critics Circle
The National Book Critics Circle is an American tax-exempt organization for active book reviewers. Its flagship is the National Book Critics Circle Award....

, including as a co-winner for nonfiction in 1978 for Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, a book that also won the Merle Curti Award
Merle Curti Award
The Merle Curti Award is awarded annually by the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American social and/or American intellectual history. A committee of 5 members of the Organization of American Historians chooses the winners from published monographs submitted by the author...

.

Wills has been awarded the honorary degree of L.H.D. by the College of the Holy Cross
College of the Holy Cross
The College of the Holy Cross is an undergraduate Roman Catholic liberal arts college located in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA...

 (1982) and by Bates College
Bates College
Bates College is a highly selective, private liberal arts college located in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States. and was most recently ranked 21st in the nation in the 2011 US News Best Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. The college was founded in 1855 by abolitionists...

 (1995).

Public appraisal


The New York Times literary critic John Leonard said in 1970 that Wills "reads like a combination of H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken
Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a scholar of American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the...

, John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 and Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

."
The Roman Catholic journalist, John L. Allen, Jr.
John L. Allen, Jr.
John L. Allen, Jr. is an American journalist based in Rome who specializes in news about the Catholic Church. He is senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and vaticanologist of CNN and NPR. Allen is also the author of several books about the Catholic Church...

 considers Wills to be "perhaps the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in America over the last 50 years" (as of 2008).
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

 in "The Strange Case of Garry Wills" states there is a "mystery and strangeness that hovers like a gray fog over everything Wills has written about his faith".

Books


  • Chesterton: Man and Mask, Doubleday, 1961. ISBN 978-0-385-50290-0
  • Animals of the Bible (1962)
  • Politics and Catholic Freedom (1964)
  • Roman Culture: Weapons and the Man (1966), ISBN 0-8076-0367-8
  • The Second Civil War: Arming for Armageddon (1968)
  • Jack Ruby (1968), ISBN 0-306-80564-2
  • Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-made Man (1970, 1979), ISBN 0-451-61750-9
  • Bare Ruined Choirs: Doubt, Prophecy, and Radical Religion (1972), ISBN 0-385-08970-8
  • Values Americans Live By (1973), ISBN 0-405-04166-7
  • Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (1978), ISBN 0-385-08976-7
  • Confessions of a Conservative (1979), ISBN 0-385-08977-5
  • At Button's (1979), ISBN 0-8362-6108-9
  • Explaining America: The Federalist (1981), ISBN 0-385-14689-2
  • The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power (1982), ISBN 0-316-94385-1
  • Lead Time: A Journalist's Education (1983), ISBN 0-385-17695-3
  • Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment (1984), ISBN 0-385-17562-0
  • Reagan's America: Innocents at Home (1987), ISBN 0-385-18286-4
  • Under God: Religion and American Politics (1990), ISBN 0-671-65705-4
  • Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America
    Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America
    Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America written by Garry Wills and published by Simon & Schuster in 1992, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism....

    (1992), ISBN 0-671-76956-1
  • Certain Trumpets: The Call of Leaders (1994), ISBN 0-671-65702-X
  • Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth (1995), ISBN 0-19-508879-4
  • John Wayne's America: The Politics of Celebrity (1997), ISBN 0-684-80823-4
  • Saint Augustine (1999), ISBN 0-670-88610-6
  • Saint Augustine's Childhood (2001), ISBN 0670030015
  • Saint Augustine's Memory (2002), ISBN 0670031275
  • Saint Augustine's Sin (2003), ISBN 0670032417
  • Saint Augustine's Conversion (2004), ISBN 0670033529
  • A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government (1999), ISBN 0-684-84489-3
  • Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (2000), ISBN 0-385-49410-6
  • Venice: Lion City: The Religion of Empire (2001), ISBN 0-684-87190-4
  • Why I Am a Catholic (2002), ISBN 0-618-13429-8
  • Mr. Jefferson's University (2002), ISBN 0-7922-6531-9
  • James Madison (2002), ISBN 0-8050-6905-4
  • Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power (2003), ISBN 0-618-34398-9
  • Henry Adams and the Making of America (2005), ISBN 0-618-13430-1
  • The Rosary: Prayer Comes Round (2005), ISBN 0-670-03449-5
  • What Jesus Meant (2006), ISBN 0-670-03496-7
  • What Paul Meant (2006), ISBN 0-670-03793-1
  • Head and Heart: American Christianities (2007), ISBN 978-1594201462
  • What the Gospels Meant (2008), ISBN 978-0-0670-01871-0
  • Bomb Power (2010), ISBN 978-1-59420-240-7
  • Outside Looking In : Adventures of an Observer (2010), ISBN 978-0670022144


Further reading