Charles Hill is an advocate of the applied liberal arts. In his new book Grand Strategies, he makes the case for reading the Great Books not merely because they are cultural museum pieces but rather because they are proper preparation for a life of leadership. Canonical literature exists because it’s profoundly useful:
Statesmen have looked at literature not only as another source of strategic insight but as a unique intellectual endeavor. Of all the arts and sciences, only literature is substantially and methodically unbounded. Literature’s freedom to explore endless or exquisite details, portray the thoughts of imaginary characters, and dramatize large themes through intricate plots brings it closest to the reality of “how the world works.” This dimension of fiction is indispensable to the strategist who cannot, by the nature of the craft, know all of the facts, considerations, and potential consequences of a situation at the time a decision must be made, ready or not. Literature lives in the realm grand strategy requires, beyond rational calculation, in acts of the imagination.
This week, Hill is my NRO podcast victim.
Next week’s podcast: Brad Thor.