• Josh Lewis

Episode 57 – Russell Kirk, Eccentric Genius with Bradley Birzer


Russell Kirk contributed more to modern American conservatism than arguably anyone else! Yet few who call themselves conservative today are familiar with the name “Kirk”—unless they’re referring to Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA. No offense to Charlie but comparing him to Russell is like comparing the works of William Shakespeare to whatever the last thing Bill Mitchell tweeted.


Who was Russell Kirk? Why is he considered the father of American conservatism? What did he do that was so important? Does his message hold value for conservatives today? Why has his legacy been largely forgotten? Saving Elephants host Josh Lewis is joined by Bradley Birzer to answer these questions and more about this woefully underappreciated, unusually eccentric, and highly ingenious thinker from the twentieth century whose prolific writings still have much to say to us about the nature of conservatism in the twenty-first century. But aside from all that, Kirk is just a fascinating individual who wrote more than the average intelligent adult will read in their lifetime and was far more comfortable with mysticism, levitation, and cultish practices than you’d ever expect of someone considered the father of American conservatism!


About Dr. Bradley J. Birzer

Bradley J. Birzer, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Hillsdale where he is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and Fellow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He is the co-founder, editor at large, and senior contributor of The Imaginative Conservative, an on-line journal for those who seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, addressing culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts, and the American Republic. Dr. Birzer also serves on the boards of the Free Enterprise Institute and The Center for Cultural Renewal and is a Fellow with the Foundation for Economic Education, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The McConnell Center, and the Center for Economic Personalism (Brazil).


Dr. Birzer is author of several books, including: In Defense of Andrew Jackson, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll, Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, co-editor of The American Democrat and Other Political Writings by James Fenimore Cooper, and co-author of The American West. He is also the author of Russell Kirk: American Conservative, and is considered an authority on the life of Russell Kirk.


He and his wife (also Dr. Birzer) have seven children and divide their time between Michigan and Colorado.

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