Best Selling Books by Garry Wills

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What the Qur'an Meant

release date: Dec 01, 2018
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What the Qur'an Meant
America's leading religious scholar and public intellectual introduces lay readers to the Qur'an with a measured, powerful reading of the ancient text Garry Wills has spent a lifetime thinking and writing about Christianity. In What the Qur'an Meant, Wills invites readers to join him as he embarks on a timely and necessary reconsideration of the Qur'an, leading us through perplexing passages with insight and erudition. What does the Qur'an actually say about veiling women? Does it justify religious war? There was a time when ordinary Americans did not have to know much about Islam. That is no longer the case. We blundered into the longest war in our history without knowing basic facts about the Islamic civilization with which we were dealing. We are constantly fed false information about Islam--claims that it is essentially a religion of violence, that its sacred book is a handbook for terrorists. There is no way to assess these claims unless we have at least some knowledge of the Qur'an. In this book Wills, as a non-Muslim with an open mind, reads the Qur'an with sympathy but with rigor, trying to discover why other non-Muslims--such as Pope Francis--find it an inspiring book, worthy to guide people down through the centuries. There are many traditions that add to and distort and blunt the actual words of the text. What Wills does resembles the work of art restorers who clean away accumulated layers of dust to find the original meaning. He compares the Qur'an with other sacred books, the Old Testament and the New Testament, to show many parallels between them. There are also parallel difficulties of interpretation, which call for patient exploration--and which offer some thrills of discovery. What the Qur'an Meant is the opening of a conversation on one of the world's most practiced religions.

Nixon Agonistes

release date: Jun 20, 2017
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Nixon Agonistes
With a new preface: A “stunning” analysis of the troubled Republican president by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg (The New York Times Book Review). In this acclaimed biography that earned him a spot on Nixon’s infamous “enemies list,” Garry Wills takes a thoughtful, in-depth, and often “very amusing” look at the thirty-seventh US president, and draws some surprising conclusions about a man whose name has become synonymous with scandal and the abuse of power (Kirkus Reviews). Arguing that Nixon was a reflection of the country that elected him, Wills examines not only the psychology of the man himself and his relationships with others—from his wife, Pat, to his vice-president, Spiro Agnew—but also the state of the nation at the time, mired in the Vietnam War and experiencing a cultural rift that pitted the young against the old. Putting his findings into moral, economic, intellectual, and political contexts, he ultimately “paints a broad and provocative landscape of the nation’s—and Nixon’s—travails” (The New York Times). Simultaneously compassionate and critical, and raising interesting perspectives on the shifting definitions of terms like “conservative” and “liberal” over recent decades, Nixon Agonistes is a brilliant and indispensable book from one of America’s most acclaimed historians.

A Necessary Evil

release date: May 28, 2013
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A Necessary Evil
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.

Henry Adams and the Making of America

release date: Aug 01, 2007
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Henry Adams and the Making of America
A profile of nineteenth-century historian Henry Adams assesses his influence on the study of history, discussing his use of archival sources, firsthand reportage, and eyewitness accounts that transformed historical study.

Lincoln at Gettysburg

release date: Dec 11, 2012
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Lincoln at Gettysburg
The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was asked to memorialize the gruesome battle. Instead, he gave the whole nation "a new birth of freedom" in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training, and his deep political experience went into this, his revolutionary masterpiece. By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln came to change the world and to effect an intellectual revolution, how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.

Inventing America

release date: Feb 15, 2017
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Inventing America
From one of America's foremost historians, Inventing America compares Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence with the final, accepted version, thereby challenging many long-cherished assumptions about both the man and the document. Although Jefferson has long been idealized as a champion of individual rights, Wills argues that in fact his vision was one in which interdependence, not self-interest, lay at the foundation of society. "No one has offered so drastic a revision or so close or convincing an analysis as Wills has . . . The results are little short of astonishing" —(Edmund S. Morgan, New York Review of Books)

Lead Time

release date: Jan 01, 2004
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Lead Time
In a collection of essays penned between 1968 and 1982, a journalist covers a wide range of topics, from the Memphis garbage strike to Martin Luther King's funeral and a night spent in jail with anti-war protesters. Reprint.

Saint Augustine

release date: Jan 01, 1999
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Saint Augustine
A portrait of one of the founding fathers of Western religious philosophy, challenging misconceptions concerning his early hedonistic life and his influential interpretations of Christian doctrine

Font of Life

release date: Jan 01, 2012
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Font of Life
Discusses the time and place where two powerful church leaders came together for a baptism that laid the foundation for the future of the Western church.

Lead time

release date: Jan 01, 1983
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