History
Play
Episode 166
Featuring Thomas Ricks
Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Thomas Ricks speaks about his new book “First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks & Romans.” The two discuss the influence of Greco-Roman thought and culture on America’s founding generation, while drawing lessons that can be applied to our democracy today.

In Episode 166 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Thomas Ricks about his book “First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks & Romans.” The two discuss the influence of Greco-Roman thought and culture on America’s founding generation, while drawing lessons that can be applied to our democracy today.

First Principles is a timely book, in that we find ourselves grappling today with many of the same questions, concerns, and anxieties that animated and vexed the drafters of the American constitution. It is also a deeply profound one because it reminds us that America was, is, and always will be an experiment. The constitution was constructed after all, in the midst of the Enlightenment.

“What was most important and really new about the Age of Reason,” writes the scholar William Goetzmann, “was the sublime confidence of the intellectuals and societal leaders in the power of man’s reason...Human nature, like all other nature, was a constant that yielded to rational inquiry.” In other words, the enlightenment showed the founding generation that it was possible to use reason and observation to discern the eternal laws of nature and then to use that understanding to aid human progress. To be enlightened was to have an energetic way of examining the world with skepticism and self-confidence and that self-confidence came from the knowledge that the world was knowable, that truths could be discovered, and inquiries made into the nature of things. “To be enlightened,” as the intellectual historian Caroline Winterer put it, “was to be filled with hope.”

It was with this sense of hope and empowerment that America’s founding generation set about to construct the American constitution and bill of rights. What were their objectives? Who did they look up to? What books did they read? And why the obsession with the ancients? What lessons did they take from the successes and failures of the Greeks and Romans? What did they value in themselves and in others? How did these values inform their construction of the union? And what can we learn from their experience when grappling with our own challenges today, whether we’re talking about executive power, media censorship, political division, or any of the other issues that animate the spirit of today’s generations?  

The purpose of this episode is to provide a historical context for the challenges we face today in an effort to understand that they are not altogether new, nor are they insurmountable. 

You can access the overtime to this episode, as well as the transcript and rundown through the Hidden Forces Patreon Page. All subscribers gain access to our overtime feed, which can be easily added to your favorite podcast application.

If you enjoyed listening to today’s episode of Hidden Forces you can help support the show by doing the following:

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | YouTube | CastBox | RSS Feed

Write us a review on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe to our mailing list through the Hidden Forces Website

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Subscribe & Support the Podcast at https://patreon.com/hiddenforces 

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Episode Recorded on 11/24/2020

Thomas E. Ricks is an adviser on national security at the New America Foundation, where he participates in its “Future of War” project. He was previously a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the prizewinning blog The Best Defense. Ricks covered the US military for The Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. Until the end of 1999, he had the same beat at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for seventeen years. A member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, he covered US military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is the author of several books, including Churchill and Orwell, The Generals, The Gamble, and the number one New York Times bestseller Fiasco, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, First Principles, has ranked as high as #3 and #4 on Amazon's and the New York Times' Best Sellers lists respectively.

Lock

Content Locked

FREE SAMPLE RUNDOWN

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Lock

Content Locked

FREE SAMPLE RUNDOWN

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

Lock

Content Locked

FREE SAMPLE RUNDOWN

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.



00:00