A Necessary Evil by Garry Wills
A History of American Distrust of Government

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Synopsis

In A Necessary Evil, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills shows that distrust of government is embedded deep in the American psyche. From the revolt of the colonies against king and parliament to present-day tax revolts, militia movements, and debates about term limits, Wills shows that American antigovernment sentiment is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our history. By debunking some of our fondest myths about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the taming of the frontier, Wills shows us how our tendency to hold our elected government in disdain is misguided.
 

About Garry Wills

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GARRY WILLS has written many acclaimed works and is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He is professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University and lives in Evanston, Illinois.
 
Published May 28, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 368 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Necessary Evil

Kirkus Reviews

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Wills believes that historical and constitutional justifications for Beltway-bashing lack any basis in fact—as if “people could stay loyal to the Constitution only if they felt it was structurally disloyal to itself.” Opposition has taken many forms, he notes, including nullification (Jefferson a...

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Publishers Weekly

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Americans, Wills argues, need to stop ""demanding from government qualities that should be sought, primarily, in other aspects of our social life."" He asks readers to value the federal government for the things it can provide, from the quotidian (the highway system) to the majestic (equal protec...

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Austin Chronicle

This latest disquisition from the apparently omniscient Wills (22 books and counting, including the 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winner Lincoln at Gettysburg) examines our persistent tendencies to belittle, belabor, and begrudge the efforts of our federal government.

Nov 26 1999 | Read Full Review of A Necessary Evil: A History o...

Mises Institute

Once he clears these away, Wills thinks, people will be ready to accept the truth: energetic government is a good, essential to a well-ordered society.

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