Books by Garry Wills

Garry Wills, one of our most distinguished historians and critics, is the author of numerous books, including Saint Augustine, Papal Sin, and the Pulitzer Prizewinning Lincoln at Gettysburg. He has won many other awards, among them two National Book Criti


WHY PRIESTS? by Garry Wills
RELIGION
Released: Feb. 12, 2013

"A comprehensive, critical exploration of the origin and meaning of priesthood and a formidable volley lobbed at tradition."
Pulitzer Prize winner Wills (Verdi's Shakespeare, 2011, etc.), a venerable voice on church history, thought and practice, provides a stunning critique of the Roman Catholic priesthood. Read full book review >
VERDI'S SHAKESPEARE by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 17, 2011

"While the book has an enormous amount to teach devotees of either Shakespeare or Verdi, opera fans in particular will enjoy the author's close and illuminating attention to backstage history, as well as words, music and phrasing."
One genius interprets another: English to Italian, words to lyrics, immortal drama to overpowering opera. Read full book review >
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 18, 2010

"Ultimately, it is Wills himself who shines brightest from these pages—owlish, ethical, skeptical of power, deep of faith and achingly honest."
Pulitzer Prize winner Wills (Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State, 2010, etc.) offers up a pleasantly revealing grab bag of memories. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 25, 2010

"As usual with Wills, provocatively argued and elegantly written."
Pulitzer Prize winner Wills (What the Gospels Meant, 2008, etc.) traces a vast distortion of the Constitution and the origins of the national-security state to the product and process of the Manhattan Project. Read full book review >
RELIGION
Released: Oct. 8, 2007

"Vintage Wills—a strong interpretive framework, vigorous prose and big, provocative arguments."
In this learned, impassioned jeremiad, Pulitzer Prize-winning Wills (What Jesus Meant, 2006, etc.) traces two styles of Protestantism throughout American history and sounds the alarm about evangelicalism. Read full book review >
HENRY ADAMS AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 14, 2005

"It seemed like a great match: one historian fascinated by the paradoxes of power writing about a great predecessor. But Wills loses his focus—and, oddly enough, even his own familiar provocative voice. "
Wills (The Rosary, 2005, etc.) may have attempted something beyond even his considerable powers in this overly ambitious examination of the great American historian Henry Adams (1838-1918). Read full book review >
THE ROSARY by Garry Wills
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Sept. 12, 2005

"A miniature masterpiece of biblical exegesis. (28 pp. of full-color illustrations)"
Wills dispenses with the diatribes against the Catholic hierarchy in Papal Sin (2000) to offer reverent reflections on the practice of the rosary. Read full book review >
SAINT AUGUSTINE’S CONVERSION by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 22, 2004

"Elegant and well annotated: of considerable interest to students of the church fathers and doctors."
Fourth and last volume (after Saint Augustine's Sin, 2003, etc.) of classicist/historian Wills's translation of Augustine's Confessions, a key document of the early church. Read full book review >
SAINT AUGUSTINE’S SIN by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 10, 2003

"Despite the ill-advised try at translation, Wills continues to burn brightly in illuminating one of the most profound, if complex, figures in Western civilization."
The prolific Wills, already with a short biography of St. Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine, 1999) and two translations of portions of The Confessions (Saint Augustine's Memory, 2002, etc.), demonstrates anew his formidable powers as cultural commentator—and the devilish difficulties of translation. Read full book review >
“NEGRO PRESIDENT” by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

"An eye-opening, carefully argued exposé of what the author justifiably considers to be one of the big sleeper issues in American political history."
Thomas Jefferson may have agonized privately over keeping slaves, writes Pulitzer-winning historian Wills, but he didn't think twice about putting them to work defending the institution of slavery. Read full book review >
SAINT AUGUSTINE’S MEMORY by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 11, 2002

"Essential for students of the Church, and a vigorous and readable version of one of Western literature's canonical works."
The second installment in prolific classicist and political theorist Wills's ongoing, thoroughly brilliant translation of St. Augustine's Confessions (St. Augustine's Childhood: Confessiones, 2001). Read full book review >
WHY I AM A CATHOLIC by Garry Wills
RELIGION
Released: July 16, 2002

"Deserves—and will almost certainly find—a wide readership while garnering for Wills both praise as a principled oppositionist and condemnation as a heretic."
The prolific historian offers a timely confession of faith and an apology in the true sense of the term. Read full book review >
JAMES MADISON by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 2, 2002

"Not a groundbreaking study, but a typically thoughtful and sympathetic evaluation of the complex character that made Madison a great theoretician of government but a mediocre practitioner of it."
As the US fights a war that raises questions about the future of Americans' personal liberties, prolific cultural critic Wills (History/Northwestern Univ.; Venice: Lion City, 2001, etc.) insightfully assesses the career of the man who was both the principal draftsman of its Constitution and its first wartime president. Read full book review >
SAINT AUGUSTINE’S CHILDHOOD by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 24, 2001

"One can only hope that Wills will expand his project and give us the Testimony whole."
An exacting—and exciting—new translation and discussion of the first book of Augustine's Confessiones by an accomplished and prolific stylist and classicist (Venice: Lion City, below, etc.). Read full book review >
RELIGION
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"A history from the precious perspective of a devotee."
Prolific classicist Wills (Saint Augustine's Childhood, above, etc.) examines the politics, art, and religion of Renaissance Venice to show how the sea empire was a crowning achievement of civilization. Read full book review >
EXPLAINING AMERICA by Garry Wills
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 3, 2001

The prolific and popular scholar-historian adds a new introduction to his study of the Federalist Papers, this time defending himself against critics who argued he blurred distinctions between Founders Hamilton and Madison. Read full book review >

PAPAL SIN by Garry Wills
RELIGION
Released: June 6, 2000

Popes used to sin openly, and Catholics knew it, writes Pulitzer Prize-winner Wills (John Wayne's America, 1997, etc.) in his new study of contemporary Catholicism. Read full book review >

CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

With the breadth of knowledge and stylistic astringency that have characterized his score of other works, Pulitzer Prize—winner Wills (John Wayne's America, 1997, etc.) attacks skepticism about federal power that corrodes political discourse. Read full book review >

JOHN WAYNE'S AMERICA by Garry Wills
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 1, 1997

Pulitzer Prize winner and author of 18 previous books, Wills (Witches and Jesuits, 1994, etc.) brings his usual insightful and far-reaching erudition to bear on one of the most culturally important ``stars'' America has ever produced. At one time or another John Wayne has been blamed for everything from cowboy diplomacy to the Vietnam War (see Editor's Letter, p. Read full book review >

HISTORY
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

The much celebrated master of nonfiction works his magic on Macbeth, using the ingredients of a mere monograph to conjure a vision of politics, theology, and theatrical practice in King James's England. Wills, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award for Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992), argues that Shakespeare's Macbeth should be understood in the context of the contemporaneous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Read full book review >

CERTAIN TRUMPETS by Garry Wills
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: May 9, 1994

Wills (History/Northwestern) has written a stunningly literate and thoughtful examination of what makes a leader. Read full book review >

HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1992

Another attempt by journalist-historian Wills (Under God, 1990, etc.) to peel away layers of myth to extract the original context and continued relevance of an American institution—as he did in his trilogy about the Enlightenment influence on early America: Cincinnatus (1984), Explaining America (1981), and Inventing America (1978). Memories of the grisly Battle of Gettysburg were hardly faded when, nearly five months later, a cemetery was erected on the site. Read full book review >