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: Political History

August 23, 2013 | Recorded on May 21, 2013

Amity Shlaes on Coolidge’s life, ideas, and success in bringing about low taxes and small government

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson (left) and author Amity Shlaes discuss her book Coo

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Amity Shlaes sheds light on the life of Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States. The harsh conditions of Coolidge’s childhood shaped his political ideas and led to his deep understanding of life and helping people succeed, especially in business. Believing in small government and low taxes, he thought government needed to get out of the way so individuals and businesses could prosper. His supply-side economics were a resounding success, with an unemployment rate of 5 percent or even 3 percent, as the economy grew and the government shrank.

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)

June 14, 2013 | Recorded on June 4, 2013

Senator Rand Paul discusses individualism, freedom, and national security on Uncommon Knowledge

Senator Rand Paul

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Senator Rand Paul discusses his political ideas, ideals, and philosophies, noting that “we’re all born with an instinct towards individualism.” He gives his insights into dealing with immigration, unemployment, foreign policy, national security, taxes, personal responsibility, and many other issues. Senator Paul’s unique perspective and solutions could be a starting point for getting the United States back on track. (39:23)

May 17, 2013 | Recorded on April 23, 2013

Thomas Sowell discusses his newest book, Intellectuals and Race

Thomas Sowell discusses Intellectuals and Society on Uncommon Knowledge.

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover fellow and author Thomas Sowell discusses his newest book, Intellectuals and Race, which argues that the impact of intellectuals' ideas and crusades on the larger society, both past and present, is the ultimate concern. (38:27)
“The intellectuals have told them [African Americans] that the world is unjust, that other people are keeping them down, that the fact that they don't have what other people have, is somebody else's fault.”

May 1, 2013 | Recorded on April 22, 2013

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush offers his outlook on immigration

Jeb Bush

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, former Florida governor Jeb Bush offers his outlook on immigration into the United States and discusses the policies he believes would improve the issue. (47:16)
“I think we've [the Republican Party] become too reactionary. We have not been as positive, offering concrete proposals that are based on this principle that the future is incredibly bright. If we believed it, we would be advocating across-the-board principles and policies that would advance that notion.”

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.”

September 5, 2012 | Recorded on July 17, 2012

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak discusses his upbringing, career, Hollywood, and politics

Pat Sajak on Uncommon Knowledge

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak discusses his modest upbringing in Chicago, joining Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam, working in small markets before finally landing in Hollywood, and politics.
“What is changing I think is, other than the money, which can help a campaign, people are tuning out celebrity endorsements. Everyone has an opinion, especially now in this Internet age where everyone is blogging. You do not have to be a celebrity to talk to the world.” (48:53)

August 1, 2012 | Recorded on July 11, 2012

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami on Uncommon Knowledge

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Hoover fellows Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami discuss the Middle East: its past, present, and future.
“If you take a look at the authoritarian world of today, the Arab world looks bereft of democratic tradition, but that wasn’t always the case.”

July 4, 2012 | Recorded on June 13, 2012

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Texas governor Rick Perry discusses the Texas success story, the perils and pitfalls of running for president, and what the rest of the country can learn from Texas. (45:28)
“You keep the taxes as low as you can on those job creators. You have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable and a legal system that does not allow for oversuing. And then you try to get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best.”

June 20, 2012 | Recorded on May 29, 2012

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

This week on Uncommon Knowledge radio host, columnist, conductor, and best-selling author Dennis Prager discusses his new book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. (48:14)
“Evil is normal. American is abnormal. That’s my view. We have created something here that is unique and remarkable.”