From Cincinnatus to Caesar

Dr. Clyde Wilson’s new gathering will be of particular interest to readers of this journal, as some parts of it have appeared in these pages and as he has for years maintained a special relationship with Chronicles.  Yet I hasten to add that the compelling quality of these essays speaks broadly to the most vital issues of our national identity and history and to the self-understanding of Americans as expressed in our politics—and, even more, to the self-awareness of Americans that cannot, or should not, be expressed in politics.

Written from 1969 to 2001, these articles, essays, reviews, and lesser pieces express a consistent, surprising, and productive point of view.  They are consistent not only in the continuity of the author’s identity but, more importantly, in his speaking from principle; surprising in their applicability to the contemporary era.  And they are productive because, no matter the provocation, Wilson’s counsels are not of despair.  Clyde Wilson knows too well that optimism and pessimism, though not determinative, are in some way self-fulfilling prophecies.  That “Death by Melancholy” once identified by Walter Sullivan, the pessimism that is rooted in the blessing and curse of knowledge, can only be averted finally by the maintenance of faith, however distressed such faith may be.  Wilson keeps the faith, no matter what.

The base...

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