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Nov 10

Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order

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The education of American statesmen has changed quite a lot since John Adams read Thucydides in Greek and Thomas Jefferson spent hours translating Virgil’s Aeneid from Latin. In his new book, Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order, Charles Hill challenges those who aspire to be statesmen to broaden their knowledge and the sources of their inspiration. The social sciences, and especially political science, address only a narrow range of problems—leaving the biggest questions beyond its reach. But in the 21st century, the insights available in great literature remain invaluable for those at the levers of power, at any level. Literature spans the disciplines and addresses the fundamentals of human nature. Without imagination, a grasp of history, and “literary insight”, students of statecraft are left impoverished. “A purely rational or technocratic approach is likely to lead one astray,” Hill writes. Our Founding Fathers would most assuredly agree.

Charles Hill, a career minister in the U.S. Foreign Service, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy, Senior Lecturer in International Studies, and Senior Lecturer in Humanities at Yale University.

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