“The students who come to Hillsdale College – undergraduates and graduate students alike – enjoy an increasingly rare privilege: the opportunity to get a proper liberal education designed to prepare them for active citizenship.”
B.A. History, Yale University, 1971
B.A. Litterae Humaniores, Oxford University, 1974
Ph.D. History, Yale University, 1977
Awards, Memberships & Fellowships
Templeton Honor Rolls for Education in a Free Society, The John M. Templeton Foundation, 1997-1998
Visiting Research Fellow, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, Spring, 1999
E. L. Wiegand Visiting Lecturer, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, California, 1999-2000
Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford, Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, 2005-6.
DaimlerChrysler Fellow, Hans Arnhold Center, The American Academy in Berlin, April-May, 2006.
Koren Prize for the Best Article Published in French History in 2005, Society for French Historical Studies, 21-22 April 2006.
Visiting Fellow, Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 18 May – 5 June 2009, 22 June – 7 August 2009.
Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
Republics Ancient and Modern I: The Ancien Régime in Classical Greece. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Republics Ancient and Modern II: New Modes and Orders in Early Modern Political Thought. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Republics Ancient and Modern III: Inventions of Prudence: Constituting the American Regime. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville and the Modern Prospect. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.
The Spartan Regime: Its Character, Origins, and Grand Strategy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
HST 104: Western Heritage
HST 393: Soft Despotism: Democracy’s Drift
HST 393: Machiavelli, More, Erasmus
HST 393: American Constitutional Convention
HST 401: Ancient Greece
HST 403: Ancient Greek City
HST 475: Case Studies: Origins of War
HST 597: Machiavelli
POL 597 / 720: Machiavelli
POL 597 / 723: Thucydides
POL 728: Plato’s Laws
Half a century ago, when I was an undergraduate at Cornell, and then at Yale, I flirted with the idea of becoming a journalist. Politics I found exciting, but I learned from a stint as a reporter at The Oklahoma Journal in Oklahoma City the summer after my freshman year that ninety-nine percent of what journalists write about from day to day tends, when viewed in retrospect, to be noise, not news of value. If I became an historian, it was because I wanted to study the consequential and not dwell on the inconsequential, and I devoted myself to the study of what I took to be most consequential in the long run: political institutions and political thought both ancient and modern.
I came to Hillsdale College in 2007 because it had become clear that there was little prospect that it would remain possible elsewhere for young people to receive a liberal education — which is to say, an intellectual formation aimed at liberating them from prejudice and at awakening them from dogmatic slumber. This can only take place at an institution in which students are deliberately exposed to thinking of the highest order which poses a challenge to the presumptions predominant in their own place and time, and for this we can look only to the past.
As an historian I have ranged far and wide. Though trained in Greek and Roman history, I have published extensively in French history, in American history, and on early modern European thought as well, and I teach everything from Greek and Roman history, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Politics to Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Locke, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, Montesquieu, Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, the American Revolution, the American Constitutional Convention, The Federalist, Rousseau, and Tocqueville. It is, I believe, only by comparing such thinkers with one another that one can begin to grasp what each is up to, and it is only after one has come to see our world and our predilections variously through their eyes that one can bring discernment to bear on that world, those predilections, and the events that take place in our own time. The students who come to Hillsdale College — undergraduates and graduate students alike — enjoy an increasingly rare privilege: the opportunity to get a proper liberal education designed to prepare them for active citizenship and to do so in an age in which indoctrination is the norm.