About Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter, wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan urged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" Peter Robinson is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and hosts the interview program "Uncommon Knowledge." Peter is a co-founder of Ricochet.

The Importance of Being Ethical, with Jordan Peterson

 

By any measure, Dr. Jordan Peterson is the most famous (now former—as is discussed in this interview) Canadian professor of clinical psychology in the world. He’s also a deep thinker and a best-selling author of multiple books, and has amassed a huge following through podcasts, YouTube videos, and public speaking. Today, Jordan Peterson is one of the most influential voices in the “anti-woke” movement and this powerful interview demonstrates why.

Bari Weiss On Post-Mainstream Media Life And Her Battles In The Culture Wars

 

Bari Weiss began her career as a mainstream media prodigy, landing coveted positions at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in her early twenties. In 2020, she famously resigned from the Timeswhen conditions there became intolerable for her, famously writing in a public resignation letter that “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.” Now Weiss is the publisher of Common Sense, her wildly popular Substack newsletter, and the host of the Honestly with Bari Weiss podcast. Her ambition is nothing short of becoming a 21st-century one-woman media company, and based on what she reveals in this interview, she is well on her way to achieving that goal.

5 More Questions For Stephen Kotkin: Ukraine Edition

 

Last month, Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson asked Princeton Professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Stephen Kotkin 5 questions, all in the foreign policy and history realm. Since then, the world has changed in ways that were unimaginable just 3 weeks ago. So we asked Professor Kotkin to come back for a second round of questions, this time all dedicated to one topic: the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And as usual, his answers are concise, incisive, and analytic. If you want to understand this crisis and some possible outcomes, don’t miss this conversation.

Remembering P.J. O’Rourke: A Conversation with Rob Long and Peter Robinson

 

When P. J. O’ Rourke passed away on February 15, 2022, America lost one of its greatest observers and chroniclers of culture and politics since Mark Twain. But O’Rourke wasn’t just reporting events from the sidelines. Through his work in National Lampoon and countless other magazine articles and books, he contributed original works as well. O’Rourke appeared on Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson three times over the years, including his final appearance in May 2020 with his lifelong friend, the writer Andrew Ferguson. In this special edition of Uncommon Knowledge, TV writer, humorist, and essayist Rob Long and Peter Robinson remember O’Rourke and discuss his work and the influence he had on their lives and careers.

Uncommon Knowledge: 5 Questions For Stephen Kotkin

 

Stephen Kotkin is a professor of history at Princeton and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of nine works of history, including the first two volumes of his planned three-volume history of Russian power and Joseph Stalin, Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928 and Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941. The premise of this show is simple: Peter Robinson poses five questions to Dr. Kotkin: what Xi Jinping, the president of China believes; what Vladimir Putin believes; whether nuclear weapons are a deterrent in the 21st century; the chances of another American renewal; and Kotkin’s rational basis for loving the United States. It’s a fascinating conversation that delves deep into one of the country’s brightest minds.

The Last King Of America: Andrew Roberts On King George III

 

In his long and distinguished career, British historian Andrew Roberts has produced world-class biographies of Winston Churchill, and Napoleon, several histories of World War II and the men who led the countries who fought that war, and other great conflicts in world history. Roberts’s new book is The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III, a biography of the monarch who led England during the American Revolution and who has been made into something of a caricature by Americans, most recently by his portrayal in the musical Hamilton as a preening, stuck-up (but funny) king of England. In this interview and in his book, Roberts goes to great lengths to deconstruct that distortion and, in the process, give us an extremely nuanced and detailed portrait of the man who created the conditions for America’s independence. Roberts also explains in great detail the dynamics between the British parliament and the nascent American government, including a fascinating account of the writing of and subsequent British reaction to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

It Could Have Been Worse: Kim Strassel and Ross Douthat Review 2021

 

It’s the last show of the year for Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, and as is our tradition (for the last two years, anyhow), we’ve invited two of our favorite journalists —Ross Douthat of the New York Times and Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal— to look back, discuss, and analyze the year that was. We delve, discuss, and predict politics, the law, COVID, the future of Roe v. Wade, and much more.

Uncommon Knowledge: Boardwalk Empire: Chris Christie’s Unfinished Political Journey

 

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie began his political career as a teenager watching Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford joust for control of the Republican Party at the 1976 GOP convention. From there, he soon entered the University of Delaware and then received his JD degree from the Seton Hall University School of Law. He served as US attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008 and as governor of New Jersey from 2010 to 2018. Gov. Christie ran for president briefly in 2016. The governor guides us through all of those—often embattled—chapters of his life in the course of this interview, including giving us his view of the Bridgegate scandal, and what it was like to be on the debate stage with Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primary race. But it’s not all politics: we also cover the governor’s views on China, COVID policy, and domestic economic policy. Finally, while he doesn’t make any announcement about his future plans, Christie does describe why he might be the best choice to run—and win—in the 2024 presidential election.

Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson Diagnoses The Dying Citizen

 

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution. His new book is The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America. As is typical whenever Dr. Hanson joins us, this interview covers a wide spectrum of topics and references, including the Acts of the Apostles, immigration, Jim Crow laws, primary tribal identities, the suburban everyman, the shrinking middle class, and JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. It’s a bracing conversation with a scholar who has an incredible breadth of interests and knowledge.

What Happened: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya On 19 Months Of COVID

 

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya has been on the front lines of analyzing, studying, and even personally fighting the pandemic. In this wide-ranging interview, Dr. Bhattacharya takes us through how it started, how it spread throughout the world, the efficacy of lockdowns, the development and distribution of the vaccines, and the rise of the Delta variant. He delves into what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we got really wrong. Finally, Dr. Bhattacharya looks to the future and how we will learn to live with COVID rather than trying to extinguish it, and how we might be prepared to deal with another inevitable pandemic that we know will arrive at some point.

Steve Jobs’s Chopsticks

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the day Steve Jobs died; 10 years ago today on October 5th, 2011. 

As I was about to graduate from Stanford business school in the spring of 1990, Steve Jobs invited me to visit him at NeXT, the company he had founded after being forced out of Apple a few years before. Showing me into his office, Steve, dressed in a black turtleneck and faded jeans, plopped into his desk chair, then motioned to a pile of chopsticks on his desk. He picked up a set, opening and closing the chopsticks as he spoke. “Aren’t these just beautiful? Look how clean and simple the lines are.”

A Lost War: A Conversation with Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster on Afghanistan’s Past, Present, and Future

 

General H. R. McMaster and military historian Victor Davis Hanson are both senior fellows at the Hoover Institution. In this frank, no-holds-barred conversation, they discuss the United States’ mission in Afghanistan: how it began, how it was conducted, and its ignominious end. McMaster and Hanson debate what worked and what failed, how social issues in the United States may have influenced our mission in Afghanistan and our decision to leave, and whether or not the United States should have continued to maintain a presence instead of leaving in a matter of weeks, abandoning thousands of Afghans loyal to the US mission there (as well as an unknown number of US citizens) after 20 years of military operations in the country.

Maverick: Jason Riley On The Life And Times Of Thomas Sowell

 

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley has just published Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell, the definitive account of the life of Hoover senior fellow Thomas Sowell. In this wide-ranging interview, Peter Robinson and Riley discuss the events and people that helped Sowell become one of the most important American voices on cultural, economic, and racial matters of the last 50 years.

Be Sure to Flag Flagg

 

 

Historian and Ricochetian Flagg Taylor has just started a marvelous new podcast, “Enduring Interest.” His subject on each episode: A book of permanent value that has become overlooked or forgotten. In this first episode, Flagg talks with fellow historian Jacob Howland about Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We,” the 1920 novel that was suppressed in Russia then smuggled to the West, in where it was published in 1924.

Doom: Niall Ferguson On The Politics And Policies Of The Pandemic

 

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe, his new book on the decisions made by governments and public health officials around the world during the COVID pandemic. In this wide-ranging discussion, Ferguson describes what governments and leaders got right and got wrong—very wrong—over the 15 months since the coronavirus spread from China. Were the lockdowns instituted around the world prudent and life saving, or did they cause more damage by crippling economies and creating massive unemployment and enormous government debt across the globe? How can vaccines be created and distributed faster and more efficiently than this one? Finally, what lessons can we learn from this pandemic that can be applied to or even prevent the next one? Yes, Niall is certain there will be another one.

A Note on the Bixby Bridge

 

Here in California, as Victor Davis Hanson argues, the great figures of business and political life once envisioned grand works—and built them. In the nineteenth century, the railroad up over the Sierras to create the western end of the transcontinental railroad. In the early twentieth century, the reservoirs and lakes to generate power—the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Huntington Lake, many others. In the middle of the last century, the canals, tunnels and pipelines that carry water from the Sierras through the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys to Los Angeles.

Which brings me to the Bixby Bridge.

A few days ago my wife and I drove south from Carmel along the Pacific Coast Highway, crossing the Bixby Bridge. The structure isn’t merely beautiful. It’s thrilling. The central span soars to 280 feet, a height that once made the structure the tallest single-span bridge in the world. When engineers designed the bridge, I learned when I did some reading afterwards, they debated whether to build a smaller structure farther inland, deciding instead to build the present structure, which is located on on the very edge of the Pacific, in part for the sheer challenge of the thing. Construction began in August 1931, ended in October 1932, and cost just under $200,000—something under $5 million in today’s money.