Essays & Reviews

Regular columns can be found at the American Conservative.

“Andrea Dworkin Didn’t Care,” Compact, May 2022
The conservative-feminist alliance of the 1980s was destined to fail.

“What the 1619 Project Means,” First Things, February 2022
None of the scholarly rebuttals touch the central claim that minorities are what America is about.

“Doctor Who,” The Lamp, May 2021
Dr. Fauci learned the wrong lesson from AIDS.

“Do-Gooder in Chief,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2021
Eleanor Roosevelt’s career vindicated every misogynist cliche about women in politics.

“Benevolent Autocrat,” First Things, February 2021
Portugal was fortunate to have a dictator like Salazar.

“The Chicago Seven’s Guilt,” Wall Street Journal, January 2021
If inciting mob violence is bad, someone forgot to tell Abbie Hoffman.

“The Law that Ate the Constitution,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2020
Christopher Caldwell vs. civil rights.

“Marriage of Genius,” First Things, March 2020
Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and The Dolphin.

“Obscenity Blindness,” American Mind, February 2020
Pornography and Paul Schrader.

“A Church Unsettled by Change,” Wall Street Journal, 28 September 2019
George Weigel has been overtaken by events.

“Our Socialist Future,” First Things, August/September 2019
A Victor Gollancz for our times.

“Don’t Get Cute,” Wall Street Journal, 3 May 2019
Kawaii at the cat café.

“A New Schlafly,” New York Times, 28 April 2019
The missing voice in family policy.

“#MeToo vs. McCarthyism,” Washington Examiner, 26 February 2019
Give me Red Channels any day.

“Shame Storm,” First Things, January 2019
A personal reflection on public shaming.


“Kicking Against the Pricks,” Hedgehog Review, Fall 2018
Anthony Comstock gets a bad rap.

“A Loving Ambivalence,” First Things, October 2018
Bartolomé de las Casas was a menace.

“Inconspicuous Consumption,” Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2018
A Thorstein Veblen of the yoga moms.

“African Fantastic,” City Journal, February 2018
The villain’s plan in Black Panther sounds familiar.

“Poet in History,” First Things, January 2018
Czesław Miłosz’s poetry holds up, but The Captive Mind does not.

“Zimbabwe’s Trauma,” National Review, December 2017
From Rhodesia to majority rule.

“Keynes Unable,” Weekly Standard, November 2017
An underwhelming little book on the Hayek–Keynes rivalry.

“Far Out,” Modern Age, Fall 2017
Seeking freedom, Seventies style.

“Shiny Happy People,” Hedgehog Review, Fall 2017
None of the great utilitarians died happy.

“This Economy Kills?” Library of Law & Liberty, August 2017
Against Catholic socialism.

“A Magnificent Anomaly,” Education & Culture, July 2017
The apocalyptic sci-fi of daily Mass-goer R.A. Lafferty.

“Romance & Socialism in J.S. Mill,” American Affairs, Summer 2017
Did Harriet Taylor Mill make her husband a socialist?

“Pilate Error,” Weekly Standard, 27 March 2017
Pontius Pilate didn’t wash his hands.

“George Eliot’s Rebellions,” Catholic Herald, 24 March 2017
Don’t take life advice from a moral solipsist.

“Lessons of Algeria,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2017
France needs Jean Lartéguy at home more than we needed him in Iraq.

“Saint Louverture,” First Things, March 2017
The Haitian Revolution was a disaster.

“The Swiss Kafka,” Quadrant, January–February 2017
Robert Walser and other Swiss lit.

“Tocqueville in the Gutter,” First Things, January 2017
How can Tocqueville save us if civil society is dead?

“Ivy League Laughs,” The Weekly Standard, 5 December 2016
Does Harvard have a sense of humor?

“An Eroded Culture,” National Review, 15 August 2016
Is the white working class to blame for its own predicament?

★ “The New Ruling Class,” Hedgehog Review, Summer 2016
The meritocracy is hardening into an aristocracy—so let it.

“A Satirist in Exile,” Books & Culture, May/June 2016
Teffi, a female Chekhov? Not even a female Bunin.

“Dangerous and Suspect Men,” Books & Culture, March/April 2016
The gay marriage debate finds a French revolutionary precedent.

“The Green and the Brown,” First Things, March 2016
Timothy Snyder gets Nazi agronomy wrong.


“Cowards, Patriots, and Pasternak,” Quadrant, December 2015
Dr. Zhivago is a Siberian soap opera but the Cold War made it something more.

“AA Envy,” Hedgehog Review, Fall 2015
Addiction recovery is the last acceptable path to spiritual growth.

“Australia and the Post-Colonial Novel,” Quadrant, October 2015
Why do so few novelists get empire right?

“Helen Vendler’s Idolatry,” Books & Culture, September/October 2015
Has the poetry doyenne read the Gettysburg Address?

“The Heritage of Ta-Nehisi Coates,” University Bookman, August 2015
Marxism, violence, cheap misdirection, intellectual slipperiness—have I left anything out?

“The Anti-Paglia,” University Bookman, July 2015
Terry Castle is America’s greatest living essayist.

“Siberia’s Surprisingly Australian Past,” Quadrant, June 2015
Honeymooning on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

“A Cause Lost—and Forgotten,” University Bookman, March 2015
Women against suffrage.


“Stewardship of the Reading Eye,”, November 2014
One cheer for censorship.

“Counterfeit Goods,” First Things, August 2014
Teju Cole is not the real deal.

“Master-Slav Dialectic,” American Spectator, May 2014
More about the Russian soul, please.

“Underburked,” American Spectator, March 2014
Yuval Levin gazes into the Burkean mirror.

“Bloodless Moralism,” First Things, February 2014
Social science shouldn’t be our only basis for moral arguments.

2013 and earlier

“Up from Colonialism,” Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2013/14
Chinua Achebe ruined African literature.

“18th Century Fox,” American Spectator, October 2013
There were low-brow conservatives in Edmund Burke’s day, too.

“Charles Lamb’s Confessions,”, September 2013
The first recovery memoir.

“A Measure of Forgiveness,” Books & Culture, May/June 2013
Ngugi wa Thiong’o comes across nicer than usual in his second memoir.

“Cronyism’s Charms,” First Things, May 2013
Fairness bad, machine politics good.

“Sex in the Meritocracy,” First Things, February 2013
College hook-up culture is depraved, but not the way Nathan Harden suggests.

“An American Abroad,” Spectator Australia, 7 July 2012
Spectator diary about my first month in Australia.

“In Defense of Robert Moses,” Weekly Standard, August 2010
Take that, Caro.

“The Smoker’s Code,” Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation
“Perhaps my favorite essay in this book,” says Jonah Goldberg’s introduction.