American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020

American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020

by George F. Will
American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020

American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020

by George F. Will


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Examine the ways in which expertise, reason, and manners are continually under attack in our institutions, courts, political arenas, and social venues with this collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist.
George F. Will has been one of this country’s leading columnists since 1974. He won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1977. The Wall Street Journal once called him “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.” In new collection, he examines a remarkably unsettling thirteen years in our nation’s experience, from 2008 to 2020. Included are a number of columns about court cases, mostly from the Supreme Court, that illuminate why the composition of the federal judiciary has become such a contentious subject.
Other topics addressed include the American Revolutionary War, historical figures from Frederick Douglass to JFK, as well as a scathing assessment of how State of the Union Addresses are delivered in the modern day. Mr. Will also offers his perspective on American socialists, anti-capitalist conservatives, drug policy, the criminal justice system, climatology, the Coronavirus, the First Amendment, parenting, meritocracy and education, China, fascism, authoritarianism, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and the morality of enjoying football. American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020 is a collection packed with wisdom and leavened by humor from one the preeminent columnists and intellectuals of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306924392
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 09/13/2022
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 488,911
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

About The Author
George F. Will writes a twice-weekly syndicated column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs for the Washington Post. He began his column with the Post in 1974, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. His fifteen previous books include The Conservative Sensibility, One Man's America, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, and Statecraft as Soulcraft. Will grew up in Champaign, Illinois, attended Trinity College and Oxford University, and received a Ph.D. from Princeton.

Table of Contents

Introduction xv

Section 1 The Path to the Present 1

From Runnymede to Stelle's Hotel 3

A Nation Not Made by Flimsy People 5

News Bulletin: The American Revolutionary War Was Violent 8

U. S. Grant, and the Writing of History, Rescued 10

Frederick Douglass, A Classical Liberal Born at Sixteen 12

An Illinois Pogrom 15

Let Us Now Praise President Taft 17

America's Dark Home Front during World War I 20

The Somme: The Hinge of World War I, and Hence of Modern History 22

Prohibition's Unintended Consequences 24

When America Reached Peak Stupidity 27

"Tell That to Mrs. Coolidge" 29

1940: When the Republican Establishment Mattered 32

America's Last Mass Lynching 34

A Year in U.S. History as Disruptive as 2020 36

The Perverse Fecundity of a Perfect Failure 39

The Transformation of a Murder, and of Liberalism 41

JFK: Not So Elusive 44

Vietnam: Squandered Valor 46

Not an Illness, a Vaccine 48

Haunted by Hue 51

Apollo 11: A Cap Tossed over the Wall 53

The Thunderclap of Ocean Venture '81 55

"This Is Going to Be Difficult" 58

Home to Henry Wright's Farm 60

Looking Backward through Rose-Tinted Glasses 62

Section 2 Politics and Policies 65

Crises and the Collectivist Temptation 67

The Announcement of a Presidential Candidacy You Will Never Hear 69

The Awful State of the State of the Union Address 71

How Not to Select Presidential Candidates 74

Socialism: A Classification That No Longer Classifies 76

American Socialists: Half Right 79

Anti-Capitalist Conservatives versus Progressives: The Narcissism of Small Differences 81

Better Never Means Better for Everyone 84

The Extravagant Faith of Market Skeptics 86

Nikki Haley against "Hyphenated Capitalism" 89

Data Confounds the Cassandra Caucus 91

Worse Can Be Better 94

Lear Raging on His Twitter-Heath 96

"Baumol's Disease" Is the Public Sector's Health 99

Defining Efficiency Down 101

America, Dated by "Rule Stupor" 104

Larry Summers's Epiphany 106

The National Endowment for the Arts' Adaptive Evolution 108

Ignorance of the Law Is… Inevitable 111

The Catholic Crime Wave 113

Bootleggers and Baptists, Together Yet Again 115

Overcriminalization Killed Eric Garner 118

Drug Policy and the "Balloon Effect" 120

Rethinking the Drug Control Triad 123

Injustices in the Criminal Justice System 125

Coercive Plea Bargaining Is a National Embarrassment 127

How the Right to a Trial Is Nullified 130

Disenfranchising Felons: Why? 132

Human Reclamation through Bricklaying 134

Sing Sing: "Not a Landfill but a Recycling Center" 137

Section 3 Justice. More or Less. Sometimes. 141

Aristotle and the Bikini-Clad Baristas 143

The Recurring Evil of the "One Drop" Rule 145

"Judicial Engagement" against the Administrative State 148

Legal Logic versus Judicial Labels 150

Public Sector Unions: FDR Was Right 153

The Court's Correct Correction 155

Social Sciences, Brain Science, and the Eighth Amendment 158

"Depravity" and the Eighth Amendment 160

When Vernon Madison Was Not "Competent to Be Executed" 163

Will It Be 1972 Forever? The High Court's Misplaced Modesty 165

Philadelphia's "Room 101" 167

"What Country Are We In?" 170

Do Fish Perform Pedicures? 172

"Shut Up!": North Carolina Explained 175

A Cake and "Animus" in Colorado 177

A Victory (Only) for the Baker 180

Supreme Court to the Prickly Plaintiffs of Greece, New York: Lighten Up 182

Cranky Secularists Have Their Cross to Bear 184

Resuscitating the Rights of National Citizenship 187

Korematsu v. United States, Repudiated 189

The Court and the Politics of Politics 192

Litigating through a Fog of Euphemisms 194

Section 4 Excursions into Science 197

Mapping the Universe Between Our Ears 199

Medicalizing Character Flaws 201

A Telescope as History Teacher 204

"Take a Sun and Put It in a Box" 206

The Pathology of Climatology 208

The MWP, LIA, and the Climate Change Debate 210

A Note on Violins and Climate Change 213

You Are Not a Teetering Contraption 214

The Coronavirus's Disturbing Lesson 216

Section 5 Thinking Economically 219

A Pessimist's Fatal Conceit 221

"Creative Destruction": More the Former than the Latter 223

The Accelerated Churning 226

The Great Enrichment, the Great Flinch, and the Complacent Class 228

Pope Francis's Fact-Free Sanctimony 230

Peak Nonsense about Scarcities 233

The Not at All Dismal Science 235

"Where Is the Pencil Czar?" 238

Section 6 Skirmishes in the Culture War 241

The Ideological Ax-Grinding of the 1619 Project 243

"Is Food the New Sex?" 245

About That Snake in the Center Seat… 248

Sanitizing Names Is Steady Work 250

Ban "Oklahoma"? 252

A Raised Eyebrow about "Redskins" 255

Slants, Redskins, and Other Insensitivities 257

What Is the Matter with Oregon? 259

Progressivism at Oregon's Gas Pumps 262

Oregon Engineers Another Embarrassment 264

The 1960s Echo: The Politics of Reciprocal Resentment 266

The "Hometown-Gym-on-a-Friday-Night" Feeling 269

An Endangered Species: The American Adult 271

The Plight of Princeton Women 274

Anti-Elitism and the "Meteorologist Fallacy" 276

The Problem with "Parental Determinism" 278

Free-Range Parenting 281

The Damage Done by Too Much Parental Praise 283

"Advantage Hoarding" in Cognitively Stratified America 285

Awesome Children and Difficult Food Choices in Gentrified Brooklyn 288

Section 7 Peculiar Goings-on in the Groves of Academe 291

36,000 Valedictorians: "They Can't All Go to Brown." 293

The First Amendment Amended: 'Freedom from Speech 296

The First Amendment in the "Free Speech Gazebo" 298

The "Surveillance State" in Ann Arbor 301

Salutary Ludicrousness 303

The Campus "Rape Culture" and the Death of Due Process 306

All Right Then, What an Unreasonable Person Finds Offensive 308

The College Degree as Status Marker 311

Yale and Other Incubators 313

Another Yale Burlesque, "Contextualized" 316

Diversity: In Everything but Thought 318

Mandatory Political Participation in California 321

"Sustainability" as Theology 323

The Consequences of Academia's Kudzu-like Bureaucracies 326

The High Cost of Oberlin's "Core Values" 328

Academic Supply Meets Diminishing Demand 331

Taxing Independent Excellence 333

Harvard's Problem Is Americas, Too 335

About Harvard: Three Hard Questions 338

The SAT and the Privilege, If Such It Is, of Transmitted Advantages 340

Meritocracy and the SAT's "Adversity Index" 343

The Surplus of Intellectual Emptiness 345

A Hymn to Impracticability 347

Section 8 Matters of Life and Death 351

Brittany Maynard: Death on Her Terms 353

Abortion: Who Are the Extremists? 355

The Wholesome Provocations of "Heartbeat Bills" 358

"America's Biggest Serial Killer" 360

"Inappropriate" 362

Iceland's Final Solution to the Down Syndrome "Problem" 365

Jon Will at Forty 367

Section 9 Darkness Remembered 371

German Resistance: Neither Negligible nor Contemptible 373

Eichmann: Not "Terrifyingly Normal" 375

The 442nd 378

"Into Eternity, Vilma" 380

"It Happened. Therefore It Can Happen Again." 382

The Politics of Memory 385

"Falling Soldier": A Well-Intended Falsification 387

China: Churchill's Foreboding, Redux 390

Faint Echoes of Fascism 392

Authoritarianism and the Politics of Emotion 395

Section 10 Complaints and Appreciations 399

The Plague of Denim 401

Drowning in a River of Public Words 403

Hobbes at Whole Foods 405

A Car under a Cloud of Smug 408

Frank Sinatra's Reminder 410

Appropriation Indignation: Elvis, How Could You! 412

Bob Dylan's Two Propositions 415

The Beach Boys and the Boomers' Music-Cued Nostalgia 417

Downton Abbey and Nostalgia Gluttony 419

Truth Decay and Healthy Distrust 422

In Praise of Binge Reading 424

Section 11 Games 427

Are You Ready for Some Autopsies? 429

The Morality of Enjoying Football 431

Super Bowl Sunday: A Roman Holiday 433

Rally 'Round the Math Class! 436

College Football and the Question of Cookie Corruption 438

The Wages of Amateurism 440

March Madness After All 443

Cooperstown: Museum or Shrine? 445

Baseball's Common Law 448

Autumn for Some Boys of Long Ago Summers 450

Vin Scully, Craftsman 452

Section 12 Farewells, Mostly Fond 455

"The Smartest Man in the United States" 457

The Roman Candle Jurist 459

William F. Buckley's High-Spirited Romp 461

The Twentieth Century's Most Consequential Journalist 464

Charles Krauthammer: "First, You Go to Medical School" 466

The Catcher at Dago Hill 469

Fidel Castro and Utopianism, Both Dead 471

Billy Graham: Neither Prophet nor Theologian 473

George McGovern: He Came by the Horror of War Honorably 476

Gerald Ford: The Benevolent Accident 478

George H. W. Bush: "I Am Not a Mystic" 481

"Then Along Came Nancy" 483

"The Eyes of Caligula and the Lips of Marilyn Monroe" 485

The Last Doughboy 488

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Walton 490

Acknowledgments 493

Index 494

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