Jim Wilson opted to spend his last couple of years at Boston College, and I, and all my colleagues, were enriched by his presence. Jim, of course, was a conservative, and I am a liberal. But before I go on about how we nonetheless saw eye to eye on this issue or that, there was something else he represented that I both admired and, to the best of my ability, tried to emulate.
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement By David Brooks (Random House, 424 pp., $27) Why would David Brooks, the frequently interesting and reasonable-even-when-you-disagree-with-him columnist for The New York Times, write a book offering the latest insights from brain research? And why would he do it by adopting the method pioneered by Rousseau in Émile—that is, by inventing fictional characters whose adventures in life are meant to illuminate larger questions of individual development and social obligation?
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy By Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 591 pp., $29.99) Early in January 1939, the precocious German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, age thirty-two, learned that all males in his age cohort had been ordered to register with the military. A dedicated opponent of the Nazi regime, he might have responded by declaring himself a conscientious objector, but there were two problems with such a course of action.