Bruce Thornton
Expertise: 

Bruce Thornton

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Bruce S. Thornton, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, grew up on a cattle ranch in Fresno County, California. He received his BA in Latin from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1975, as well as his PhD in comparative literature–Greek, Latin, and English–in 1983. Thornton is currently a professor of classics and humanities at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of nine books on a variety of topics, including Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization; Searching for Joaquin: Myth, Murieta, and History in California; with Victor Davis Hanson, Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age; Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide; and most recently The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America. His numerous essays and reviews on Greek culture and civilization and their influence on Western civilization, as well as on other contemporary political and educational issues, have appeared in both scholarly journals and magazines such as the New Criterion, Commentary, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Claremont Review of Books. Thornton is also a regular contributor to online magazines such as City Journal and Advancing a Free Society. He has lectured at many colleges and universities and at venues such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Army War College, and the Air Force Academy; he has also appeared on television on the History Channel and ABC’s Politically Incorrect. His next book, to be released in July 2014 by the Hoover Institution Press, is titled Democracy's Dangers and Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Money Doesn’t Stink

by Bruce Thorntonvia FrontPage Mag.com
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

In his biographies of the Roman emperors, Suetonius describes a conversation between Vespasian and his son Titus, who disapproved of his father taxing the urine that tanners and other industries collected from public restrooms: “When Titus found fault with him for contriving a tax upon public conveniences, [Vespasian] held a piece of money from the first payment to his son’s nose, asking whether its odor was offensive to him. When Titus said ‘No,’ he replied, ‘Yet it comes from urine.’”

Analysis and Commentary

The Anatomy Of Trumpophobia

by Bruce Thorntonvia FrontPage Mag.com
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Mitt Romney launched a gratuitous attack on Donald Trump. Like his earlier criticisms, there’s not much of substance in this latest complaint, just recycled bromides typical of NeverTrumpRepublicans’ (NTR) obsession with style, optics, and “character.” As such, however, Romney’s screed is useful for analyzing the disgruntled elitism that explains not just Trumpophobia, but also the reasons for establishment Republicans’ alienation of millions of voters whose natural political home should be the Republican Party.

Analysis and Commentary

Syria And Our Foreign Policy Muddle

by Bruce Thorntonvia FrontPage Mag.com
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Donald Trump’s decision to pull ground troops out of Syria, followed hard by Defense Secretary Mattis’ resignation effective January 1, has sparked the usual complaints about the unpredictable, shoot-from-the-hip president. And as usual, the most important issue underlying the debate over his decision is ignored––our failure to settle on a coherent, long-term foreign policy strategy.

Analysis and Commentary

The New Year’s Resolutions We Should Be Making

by Bruce Thorntonvia Front Page Magazine
Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Since Election Day 2016, one story has dominated our attention––the person and rhetoric of Donald Trump. No amount of achievements by Trump and the Republican Congress at home or abroad can distract the bipartisan NeverTrump chorus from shrieking over tabloid trivia ranging from mysterious nudie selfies, to the president’s fifty-year-old draft deferments.

Analysis and Commentary

The Phony 'Crises' Of Progressives

by Bruce Thorntonvia FrontPage Mag.com
Wednesday, December 26, 2018

In November 2008, President-elect Obama’s chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel signaled the new administration’s progressive sensibility when he said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” For an ideology impatient with the rules of political change and democratic persuasion, the urgency of alleged crises creates powerful opportunities for politicians to suspend those rules and bypass the process of deliberation in which citizens exercise their autonomy and sovereignty.

Analysis and Commentary

Democracy, Deliberation, And The Internet

by Bruce Thorntonvia Front Page Magazine
Monday, December 17, 2018

The insidious power of the sophist and demagogue in our 24/7 virtual world.

Analysis and Commentary

Kevin Hart And The Politics Of Comedy

by Bruce Thorntonvia Front Page Magazine
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

For a few days last week it seemed we might witness a rare example of integrity, independence, and courage in Hollywood, that herd of independent minds. Comedian Kevin Hart was slated to host the Oscars, but some tweets insulting to gays from several years ago surfaced, and the Salemite usual suspects began clamoring for the stake.

Analysis and Commentary

Talking Millennials Out Of Socialism

by Bruce Thorntonvia Front Page Magazine
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Writing last week about the new affection for socialism on the part of Millellenials, electoral maven Karl Rove warned us not to ignore or dismiss this enthusiasm. Socialism’s long record of failure “doesn’t mean new forms of socialism can’t gain a following.” Rove’s solution is for Republicans to “do the hard work of updating old arguments,” and “hone their arguments” against socialist policies in preparation for the 2020 presidential race.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Didn’t Create Europe’s Resentment

by Bruce Thorntonvia Front Page Magazine
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Speaking in Paris at the centenary of the Armistice, French president Emmanuel Macron (caricatured above) made some silly comments about nationalism. Recycling tired clichés about nationalism’s guilt for both World Wars, he called nationalism the “betrayal of patriotism” and warned about the “old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death.”

Analysis and Commentary

A Thanksgiving Lesson

by Bruce Thorntonvia FrontPage Mag.com
Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day used to be one of our most cherished civic holidays. On that day we celebrated our history, our faith, and our Republican government. In the stories told on that day, we acknowledged that though we are people whose touchstones are inalienable rights that no government bestows and no other human can take away, we are still a people of community and traditions, part of what G.K. Chesterton calls the “democracy of the dead.” 

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