Past episodes
About Uncommon Knowledge

For more than a decade the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.”

The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Uncommon Knowledge by topic: International Law

July 4, 2013 | Recorded on July 4, 2013

Crisis Management: Kissinger, McNamara, and Rice

Condoleezza Rice (left), the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Publ
Image credit: Steve Gladfelter, Stanford Visual Arts

This week Uncommon Knowledge brings us interview excerpts from two former secretaries of state and Hoover fellows Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, and former secretary of defense Robert McNamara. All three have influenced American foreign policy through the years and through different crises, and all three believe that the United States possesses a particular responsibility in the world. (25:47)

April 18, 2013 | Recorded on April 16, 2013

John O'Sullivan remembers Margaret Thatcher on Uncommon Knowledge

John O'Sullivan

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, journalist and author John O'Sullivan discusses the unique and memorable career of the late Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. (44:12)
“Mrs. Thatcher loved people who argued with her. She loved debate. She loved rhetorical combat. That was all important to her. People who argued with her went up in her estimation and she tended to like them.”

April 25, 2012 | Recorded on February 29, 2012

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author and commentator Pat Buchanan discusses the disintegration of the United States as a superpower and a united nation.
“Why are you bringing in each year one million people to work in the United States when we have twenty-three million people who are unemployed or underemployed. What are you doing to your own people, black, white, Asian, whatever, by bringing in new workers when you have this enormous unemployment problem. It does not make sense.” (1:00:41)

January 11, 2012 | Recorded on October 17, 2011

The Storm of War

Andrew Roberts

This week on Uncommon Knowledge historian Andrew Roberts discusses, with Hoover research fellow Peter Robinson, his book The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War. In the book, Roberts investigates what led up to the war, the historical factors responsible for Hitler’s rise to power, Hitler’s shortcomings as a military leader, Nazi Germany’s defeat, and Allied contributions to the victory. (38:15)

July 29, 2011 | Recorded on July 14, 2011

Fouad Ajami and Charles Hill—Trials of a Thousand Years

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami on Uncommon Knowledge

Of Persian descent, Fouad Ajami was raised in Lebanon and came to the United States at age eighteen. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the winner of this year’s Breindel Journalism Award.

During his career at the State Department, Ambassador Charles Hill served as an adviser to Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. Hill is a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the diplomat-in-residence at Yale. He is the author, most recently, of Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism.

June 3, 2011 | Recorded on May 17, 2011

Michael Chertoff — Threat Levels

Michael Chertoff is interviewed on Uncommon Knowledge

A former federal prosecutor and federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Michael Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. He is also the founder of the Chertoff Group, a security and risk-management firm, and the author of Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years.

October 15, 2010 | Recorded on October 4, 2010

Victor Davis Hanson — The New Old World Order

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian, professor of classics, and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of more than a dozen and a half books. His most recent volumes are Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, which Dr. Hanson edited, and The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern, a volume of Dr. Hanson’s own essays.

July 28, 2004 | Recorded on July 28, 2004

UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Torture and the War on Terror

Before September 11, we took it for granted that only nations or states could wage war on the United States. After 9/11 it became obvious that war could also be waged by terrorists operating anonymously and in the shadows. Are the laws of war—the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention on Torture—suited to this new reality of war? Whom may we detain? How may we interrogate those we detain? In the war on terror, do the laws of war permit us to be as tough as we need to be? Peter Robinson speaks with Peter Berkowitz and Jenny Martinez.