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Garry Wills

Garry Wills is one of the most respected writers on religion today. He is the author of Saint Augustine's Childhood, Saint Augustine's Memory, and Saint Augustine's Sin, the first three volumes in this series, as well as the Penguin Lives biography Saint Augustine. His other books include "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Best 11 Books on Garry Wills

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Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library)

In a masterly work, Garry Wills shows how Lincoln reached back to the Declaration of Independence to write the greatest speech in the nation’s history.

The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was asked to memorialize the gruesome battle. Instead he gave the whole nation “a new birth of freedom” in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training and his deep political experience went into this, his revolutionary masterpiece.

By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln came to change the world and to effect an intellectual revolution, how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.
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What Jesus Meant

“Garry Wills brings his signature brand of erudite, unorthodox thinking to his latest book of revelations. . . . A tour de force and a profound show of faith.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)
 
Look out for a new book from Garry Wills, What The Qur'an Meant, coming fall 2017.

In what are billed “culture wars,” people on the political right and the political left cite Jesus as endorsing their views. But in this New York Times-bestselling masterpiece, Garry Wills argues that Jesus subscribed to no political program. He was far more radical than that. In a fresh reading of the gospels, Wills explores the meaning of the “reign of heaven” Jesus not only promised for the future but brought with him into this life. It is only by dodges and evasions that people misrepresent what Jesus plainly had to say against power, the wealthy, and religion itself. But Wills is just as critical of those who would make Jesus a mere ethical teacher, ignoring or playing down his divinity. An illuminating analysis for believers and nonbelievers alike, What Jesus Meant is a brilliant addition to our national conversation on religion.
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James Madison (The American Presidents Series)

A bestselling historian examines the life of a Founding Father.

Renowned historian and social commentator Garry Wills takes a fresh look at the life of James Madison, from his rise to prominence in the colonies through his role in the creation of the Articles of Confederation and the first Constitutional Congress.

Madison oversaw the first foreign war under the constitution, and was forced to adjust some expectations he had formed while drafting that document. Not temperamentally suited to be a wartime President, Madison nonetheless confronted issues such as public morale, internal security, relations with Congress, and the independence of the military. Wills traces Madison's later life during which, like many recent Presidents, he enjoyed greater popularity than while in office.

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Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence

From acclaimed historian Garry Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg, a celebrated re-appraisal of the meaning and the source of inspiration of The Declaration of Independence, based on a reading of Jefferson's original draft document.

Inventing America upended decades of thinking about The Declaration of Independence when it was first published in 1978 and remains one of the most influential and important works of scholarship about this founding document. Wills challenged the idea that Jefferson took all his ideas from John Locke. Instead, by focussing on Jefferson's original drafts, he showed Jefferson's debt to Scottish Enlightenment philosophers such as Lord Kames and Francis Hutcheson, and even the metaphysics of Aristotle. Wills's close reading of the previously overlooked drafts of the Declaration have altered and deepened the meaning and consequences of the single most important document that contintues to define America.
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The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power

With a new preface: An “irreverent [and] entertaining” portrait of JFK, the Camelot mystique, and the politics of charisma (The Christian Science Monitor).

Described by the New York Times as “a sort of intellectual outlaw,” Garry Wills takes on the romantic myths surrounding the Kennedy clan in this thought-provoking examination of electoral politics and the power of image in America.
 
Wills argues that the much-admired dynasty, beginning with patriarch Joe Kennedy, created a corrupt climate where appearances were more important than reality, truth was discarded when it wasn’t convenient, and an assortment of devoted loyalists sacrificed integrity for the sake of reflected glory. Touching upon topics ranging from the manipulation of the PT-109 story in the media to the authorship of Profiles in Courage to the handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis to persistent rumors of extramarital affairs, Wills offers a persuasive look not only at President John F. Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Edward, but also at the bubble that existed around them and lured in some of the best and brightest of the era.
 
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg and Why I Am a Catholic, The Kennedy Imprisonment is “a brilliant and troubling study of the Kennedy era in American politics” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
 
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What the Gospels Meant

“A remarkable achievement—a learned yet eminently readable and provocative exploration of the four small books that reveal most of what’s known about the life and death of Jesus.” (Los Angeles Times)

Look out for a new book from Garry Wills, What the Qur'an Meant, coming fall 2017.

 
In his New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant, Garry Wills offers tour-de-force interpretations of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Here Wills turns his remarkable gift for biblical analysis to the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Wills examines the goals, methods, and styles of the evangelists and how these shaped the gospels' messages. Hailed as "one of the most intellectually interesting and doctrinally heterodox Christians writing today" (The New York Times Book Review), Wills guides readers through the maze of meanings within these foundational texts, revealing their essential Christian truths.
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Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg offers a gallery of portraits that examine the interplay among leaders and followers and identify the essential elements of successful leadership. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
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Reagan's America: Innocents at Home

New York Times Bestseller: A “remarkable and evenhanded study of Ronald Reagan” from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg (The New York Times).

Updated with a new preface by the author, this captivating biography of America’s fortieth president recounts Ronald Reagan’s life—from his poverty-stricken Illinois childhood to his acting career to his California governorship to his role as commander in chief—and examines the powerful myths surrounding him, many of which he created himself.
 
Praised by some for his sunny optimism and old-fashioned rugged individualism, derided by others for being a politician out of touch with reality, Reagan was both a popular and polarizing figure in the 1980s United States, and continues to fascinate us as a symbol. In Reagan’s America, Garry Wills reveals the realities behind Reagan’s own descriptions of his idyllic boyhood, as well as the story behind his leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, the role religion played in his thinking, and the facts of his military service.
 
With a wide-ranging and balanced assessment of both the personal and political life of this outsize American icon, the author of such acclaimed works as What Jesus Meant and The Kennedy Imprisonment “elegantly dissects the first U.S. President to come out of Hollywood’s dream factory [in] a fascinating biography whose impact is enhanced by techniques of psychological profile and social history” (Los Angeles Times).

 
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What Paul Meant

“If you think you knew Paul, get ready to have all sorts of cherished preconceptions exhilaratingly stripped away. If you've ever been vaguely curious, there is no finer introduction.” (Los Angeles Times)

Look out for a new book from Garry Wills, What The Qur'an Meant, coming fall 2017.
 
In his New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant and What the Gospels Meant, Garry Wills offers fresh and incisive readings of Jesus' teachings and the four gospels. Here Wills turns to Paul the Apostle, whose writings have provoked controversy throughout Christian history. Upending many common assumptions, Wills argues eloquently that Paul’s teachings are not opposed to Jesus' message. Rather, the best way to know Jesus is to discover Paul. In this stimulating and masterly analysis, Wills illuminates how Paul, writing on the road and in the heat of the moment, and often in the midst of controversy, galvanized a movement and offers us the best reflection of those early times.
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Saint Augustine: A Life (Penguin Lives Biographies)

Look out for a new book from Garry Wills, What The Qur'an Meant, coming fall 2017.

Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills brings the same fresh scholarship, lively prose, and critical appreciation that characterize his well-known books on religion and American history to this outstanding biography of one of the most influential Christian philosophers.

 

Saint Augustine follows its subject from his youth in fourth-century Africa to his conversion and subsequent development as a theologian. It challenges the widely held misconceptions about Augustine’s sexual excesses and shows how, in embracing classical philosophy, Augustine managed to enlist “pagan authors” in the defense of Christianity. The result is a biography that makes a spiritual ancestor feel like our contemporary.

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IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GARRY WILLS, YOU CAN FIND HIM ON HIS Website, Facebook , Twitter , Instagram AND Youtube