Garry Wills is Professor of History Emeritus at Northwestern. 
He is the author, most recently, of The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis. (November 2016)

FEATURED

Our Moloch

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

IN THE REVIEW

On the Election—IV

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the second presidential debate, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, October 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton has been attacked so many times that survival has made her overly cautious. You could wish for her to be brave, like Angela Merkel. But think of the hours Clinton has endured before congressional committees, getting grilled, being held to a higher standard, having to prove herself in interviews, while once again by comparison a white guy gets a free ride.

My Koran Problem

A Muslim woman asking for protection from black magic inside the shrine of Abba Ruwais, a Copt saint, Cairo, Egypt, 1997
In the summer of 2015, I was asked by the directors of a university political science program to lecture about Americans’ attitudes toward Islam. I asked at the beginning how many in the audience (of about eighty students and faculty) had read the Koran. Four hands went up. Later, at …

NYR DAILY

Disciples of Distrust

I think a deeper crisis underlies Trump’s following: the shuddering distrust of every kind of authority—a contempt for the whole political system, its “establishment,” the Congress, its institutions (like the Fed), its “mainstream” media, the international arrangements it has made (not only the trade deals but the treaty obligations under NATO and other defense agreements). What has caused this bitter disillusion?

Gulping Down Shakespeare

Queen Margaret (Karen Aldridge) grieves a personal loss in the bloodshed of the Wars of the Roses in Barbara Gaines’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Henry VI, Part Two, September, 2016

Shakespeare’s first audience had to take him in single plays, as they were conceived and put on. But we have his large body of work, and some plays are cross-referential, especially the plays of dynastic ups and downs around the British crown. The history plays beg for some consideration as a whole, as Barbara Gaines’s two-part day-long productions for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater show.

Shakespeare: War Is King

The crowning of Henry VI (Steven Sutcliffe) in Barbara Gaines’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Henry VI, Part 1, May, 2016

Barbara Gaines, the founding director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, in a sequence she has called “Tug of War,” has grouped six of Shakespeare’s so-called “history plays” into two sequences, the first being performed this spring, the second in the autumn. Gaines portrays a war culture that affects everyone and everything. She does not pretend she is presenting Shakespeare’s own views, but rather looks back on the plays as cultural products to be weighed in our terms.

The Next Justice? It’s Not Up to Us

No sooner was Antonin Scalia dead than Republicans said that his seat should not be filled before the election of a new president. If the framers wanted to let the people “have a say” and “weigh in,” they would have made the appointment or confirmation of the justices come from the one directly democratic part of the system. What could be more absurd than for cultists of an originalist like Justice Scalia to call for a popular referendum on Supreme Court justices?

NYR CALENDAR

Spotlight

The script, written by the film’s director Tom McCarthy and the academic- and-showbiz marvel Josh Singer, is amazing in its mastery of the complex material, since many strands converged for the paper to break the hold of the hierarchy over the city.