Books Discussed in this essay:

Negro Politics: The Search for Leadership, by James Q. Wilson;

American Politics, Then and Now and Other Essays, by James Q. Wilson;

The Moral Sense, by James Q. Wilson;

American Government: Institutions and Policies, by James Q. Wilson, John J. DiIulio, Jr., and Meena Bose;

On Character, by James Q. Wilson;

Thinking About Crime, by James Q. Wilson;

Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why they Do It, by James Q. Wilson;

Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities, by Catherine M. Coles and George L. Kelling;

Varieties of Police Behavior: The Management of Law and Order in Eight Communities, by James Q. Wilson;

The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, by Edward C. Banfield;

The Unheavenly City: The Nature and the Future of Our Urban Crisis, by Edward C. Banfield;

The Democratic Muse: Visual Arts and the Public Interest, by Edward C. Banfield;

Edward C. Banfield: An Appreciation, edited by Charles R. Kesler;

Here the People Rule, by Edward C. Banfield;

City Politics, by Edward C. Banfield and James Q. Wilson;

The Amateur Democrat: Club Politics in Three Cities, by James Q. Wilson;

Crime & Human Nature: The Definitive Study of the Causes of Crime, by Richard J. Herrnstein and James Q. Wilson;

Political Organizations, by James Q. Wilson;

The Investigators: Managing FBI and Narcotics Agents, by James Q. Wilson;

The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families, by James Q. Wilson.

James Q. Wilson died on March 2, 2012 at the age of 80. Every major American newspaper ran a long obituary, magazines and syndicated columnists examined his life and work, and prominent officials of both parties, from governments past and present, issued statements.

Why the fuss over a retired political science professor? Because, as President George W. Bush stated when awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, Wilson was arguably "the most influential political scientist in America since the White House was home to Professor Woodrow Wilson." Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called his former Harvard colleague "the smartest man in America," a judgment Wilson rejected.

He served six presidents as an advisor on such disparate topics as crime, foreign policy intelligence, and bioethics. After receiving a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago in 1959, he held professorships at Harvard (1961-1987), UCLA (1987-1997), and Pepperdine University (1998-2009). He had board chairmanships or other leadership positions with the Joint Center for Urban Studies of Harvard and MIT, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Enterprise Institute, among others. He won major academic awards in political science, criminology, public administration, and policy studies.

In 1960 Wilson published his first book, Negro Politics: The Search for Leadership. In 2010 he published his last, American Politics, Then and Now and Other Essays. Over that half-century he authored or co-authored 17 books (and edited half-a-dozen more), plus hundreds of articles and a bestselling textbook on American government.

From the time it was diagnosed in 2010, Wilson battled leukemia with heart and humor, but reckoned his time was short. The 13th edition of his textbook, published in 2012, opened with a "A Letter from the Author" explaining the book's rationale and summarizing for one last time how the "Constitution, our adversarial political culture, and a commitment to freedom and limited government" make America "a unique democracy, not necessarily the best one."

Wilson's vast and varied corpus has four corners: his work on bureaucracy and organization theory; on crime and criminal justice policy; on American politics, government, and policy making; and on the light science can shed on the moral behavior necessary for societies to cohere and succeed. For the first three decades of his career, he wrote mainly about bureaucracy, crime, and politics. During the last two decades, every book he wrote, with the exception of his American government textbook, was focused on morality. Between 1993 and 2000, he published three books in a row with the word "moral" in the title. He considered the first book in this series, The Moral Sense (1993), to be his most important.

I number among Wilson's now late-middle-aged former Harvard graduate students. He and I collaborated on a few articles, wrote for some of each other's edited volumes, and occasionally reviewed each other's draft manuscripts. From 1992 through 2012, I co-authored 8 of the 13 editions of his textbook. ("Our textbook!" he would say, but I never yielded on that.)

Wilson, who voted for Democrats up to Hubert Humphrey in 1968 but then became a Republican, was known as a neoconservative public intellectual. He eschewed that label (he preferred "policy skeptic"), but he defined his brand of neoconservatism in his 1991 book On Character:

I was a neoconservative (if that is what you wanted to call me) because I was raised in a Catholic family in a Southern California city populated mostly by Midwestern Protestants. At school we unhesitatingly saluted the flag every morning; our disputes—and they were often vicious—were rarely over politics but often over dates, cars, sports, and (above all) male reputation. Almost everybody went to church on Sunday…. [A] neoconservative such as myself understood the public's worry over crime and disorder and respected its allegiance to family, neighborhood, church, and country.


The Book's the Thing

Wilson's body of work—the books and the rest—is beautifully written but simply too vast to be easily summarized. So let me confine my attention to The Moral Sense and several of Wilson's other books. He would applaud that focus, for he held an old-fashioned idea about the importance of books, namely, that almost no academic article, popular essay, op-ed, or (heaven forbid) blog posting, however trenchant or timely, can do the sustained intellectual heavy-lifting, refine the writer's understanding, and illuminate the reader's mind, the way a good book can. As a collegiate debating champion, Wilson knew the difference between winning an argument, on the one hand, and understanding something for oneself or teaching it to others in a way that, as he often said, is "general, meaningful, and true." Good books on complex empirical subjects leave the reader convinced that a shorter work could not possibly have done justice to the subject.

Wilson practiced what he preached. Long after he had anything to prove, he wrote books. Some he crafted from his best essays on a large subject, like On Character and the two editions of his Thinking About Crime. He would tweak, revise, or entirely rewrite each essay to fit into an intellectually coherent whole. But he never felt that mission to be fully accomplished. He introduced On Character by noting that the "essays in this book are fragmentary precursors of work in progress. I am not quite satisfied with them."

In 1975, Wilson transformed a bunch of essays into Thinking About Crime. Eight years later, he issued a revised edition with thirteen chapters including five that did not appear in the first one and three that were thoroughly rewritten. So it was mostly all new material being published under the old title. I had done some last-minute fact-checking on the revised edition. In 1984, I asked him how the work was being received. As it turned out, while the first edition had made a huge splash, the revised edition made hardly a ripple. "Too bad," he lamented, "because this is by far the better book."

Wilson wanted each book not to teach readers what to think about a particular problem (any decent pundit's column can do that much), but how to think about it. He counted it a success if the reader finished the book prepared to grapple with all the caveats and nuances that might be needed for a reasonable mind to understand the topic in ways the author did not anticipate or with which he might differ.

Wilson resisted all marketing and other pressures to dumb down his American government textbook. And though he read as many academic journals in as many different fields as anyone could, he learned mainly by reading and reacting to books, and beckoned others to be bookish, too. Thus it was that Wilson considered his seminal 1967 essay, "The Bureaucracy Problem," published in The Public Interest, to be important, but deemed his 1989 book, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why they Do It, to be not only more detailed but of an entirely different, and higher, intellectual character.

By the same token, Wilson's famous 1982 magazine article in the Atlantic, "Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety," co-authored with George L. Kelling, anecdotally illustrated what became known as the "broken windows" thesis: serious crime can be curbed by policing disorderly behavior in public spaces, such as arresting turnstile jumpers in subways. But Wilson really did not consider "broken windows" to be a significant concept until 1996 when Kelling and Catherine M. Coles co-authored Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities. Wilson penned that fine book's foreword. Still, to his last days, if you asked Wilson whether police behavior could be predictably and reliably altered in ways that affected crime rates, he would express skepticism.

In his own book, Varieties of Police Behavior: The Management of Law and Order in Eight Communities (1968), he had concluded that the "police can do relatively little about preventing most common crimes," and had counted "reducing the incidence of…crimes committed by repeaters" among "those things that the police cannot do." Fixing Broken Windows, subsequent empirical studies, and veteran police chiefs' reports about tangible successes, caused him to scale back but not discard his doubts about our capacity to lower crime by engineering prescribed changes in policing tactics and organizational structures. In 2009 he told me, "Nobody has yet written the definitive book on the subject."

A Connecticut Yankee's Apprentice

It's impossible to understand Wilson and his books without first understanding at least a little something about Edward C. Banfield and his books. Banfield, who died in 1999, was Wilson's dissertation supervisor, Harvard political science colleague, and dear friend. When Wilson learned that I had enrolled in one of Banfield's graduate seminars, he let his mentor know that I was a married working-class kid from South Philly, the first member of my family to go to college, and that my family members and friends included cops, car mechanics, and plumbers. "Professor Banfield," Wilson wryly predicted, "will be pleased to learn that you are close to a plumber."

A one-time New Deal government employee and enthusiast, Banfield became a self-described "vintage Burkean conservative." His early career had him immersed in the social sciences that promised deliverance from urban ills via urban planning. But he shook off those illusions decades before doing so became fashionable, arguing that the limits of rationality, the realities of practical politics, and the moral conflicts that underlie all political choices, render the experts' government-backed quest to "solve" complex human problems a pseudo-sophisticated fool's errand.

In 1958, Banfield published The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, about peasants living in the southern Italian village of Montegrano (a pseudonym). A narrowly self-regarding, highly present-oriented civic culture of "amoral familism," he argued, had kept the Montegranese from caring about and cooperating with their neighbors. As a result, they lived in extreme poverty. By contrast, people in other southern Italian villages, and most northern Italians, had more pro-social and future-oriented civic cultures. Despite having no better natural resources than the Montegranese, these people were far less afflicted by poverty.

A decade later, Banfield observed in America's poorest inner-city neighborhoods much the same weak civic culture that he had observed in Montegrano. His 1970 book The Unheavenly City: The Nature and the Future of Our Urban Crisischallenged the day's leading social science theories about the "root causes" of urban street crime, poverty, and educational failure. Unlike Wilson, Banfield studiously avoided functioning in the least as a public intellectual. But the controversy sparked by The Unheavenly City thrust him into the spotlight. Despite chronic health problems, from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s he continued to write important books, including, in 1984, The Democratic Muse: Visual Arts and the Public Interest.

Shortly after Banfield died, Wilson penned "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: A Biography." Affectionately and authoritatively written, this roughly 50-page profile of Banfield and Banfield's books was published in Edward C. Banfield: An Appreciation, a 2002 publication by the Henry Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College, edited by Charles R. Kesler, and available online.

Banfield, wrote Wilson, "was dedicated to doing what social scientists are supposed to do, namely, finding simple or general explanations for a variety of complex behaviors." Those words echoed what Wilson had written in the spring 1992 edition of the Public Interest about Banfield's collection of essays, Here the People Rule (1985): "What Edward Banfield has done in books and essays spanning nearly half a century has been to challenge the central tenet of Progressive thought in America, namely, that society could and should be rationalized (and for some, moralized) by government action." Wilson added, "It is a pity that none of the chapters in this collection contains any part of Banfield's many books, for there one sees the social scientist at work, explaining the limits of human cooperation…the making of political decisions…some reasons for economic stagnation…and the causes of urban problems."

In 1963, Banfield and Wilson co-authored City Politics. The book's introduction plucks three ideas that would recur for the next 50 years in Wilson's books: First, even the best work by social scientists can tell us little or nothing that will enable us to improve individuals or reform institutions. Second, social science as an effort to understand complex empirical realities is intrinsically satisfying and, if done honestly and well, requires no practical, civic, or other non-intellectual justification. Finally, when deciding between esoteric research findings and lessons based on experience and backed by common sense, choose the latter.

The reason why knowledge about politics (whether in the form of general propositions or as practical wisdom) will not lead to better solutions of social problems is that impediments to such solutions are a result of disagreement, not lack of knowledge…. Perhaps the most intrinsically satisfying of man's activities is trying to understand the world he lives in…. Responding to the challenge is, we think, its own justification and reward.


In 1962 Wilson wrote The Amateur Democrat: Club Politics in Three Cities. In certain respects, The Amateur Democrat is Wilson's most prophetic work. Political party regulars, he grasped, were losing their grip on the electoral process. They were being replaced by "amateurs" who believed "that principles, rather than interest, ought to be both the end and motive of political action." A half-century before and the Tea Party, he saw today's hyper-partisan, hyper-ideological politics coming.

Wilson reminded his readers that no one had "used the power of patronage more ruthlessly than Abraham Lincoln," and that "no one relied more heavily on big-city machines than Franklin D. Roosevelt." But even in his preface to the second edition in 1966, he eschewed any purpose for the book save understanding the situation for what it was: "This book is about the functions of political parties…. [I]t is not about municipal reform, good government, the honest ballot, or public policy." He hoped that "in time" he would learn "not to be irritated" by people who insisted that he take a stand for or against "reform."

Social Scientist at Work

In academic circles, the reaction to Wilson's Thinking About Crime in 1975 was not as fierce as the reaction to Banfield'sThe Unheavenly City five years earlier, but it could hardly be called restrained. Whereas Banfield was lambasted as a reactionary or worse, Wilson was labeled a conservative—for life.

Wilson's "conservative" fighting words included the observation that "so few knowledgeable persons, especially among the ranks of many professional students of crime, are even willing to entertain the possibility that penalties make a difference" or that criminals are not "radically different from ordinary people." Like most people, criminals pay attention "to the costs and rewards of their activities." On average, the more they believe they are likely to get caught and punished, the less likely they are to murder, rape, rob, burglarize, or vandalize.

I have already noted Wilson's conclusions, as expressed in his 1968 book, Varieties of Police Behavior, about how difficult it is to engineer changes in policing that yield reductions in crime. It is widely asserted that he sang a different tune seven years later in Thinking About Crime. In fact, however, he stressed that "there is as yet no way of knowing whether improved police ability to solve crimes will affect the crime rate."

Wilson was at pains to show that social science does not contradict the policing and other crime-control strategies that most average citizens think are just common sense. Thus, "a massive increase in police presence on foot in densely settled areas will probably lead to a reduction" in crimes. And thus "both an increased certainty of a sentence and an increased length of sentence" will reduce crimes, first and foremost among those high-rate violent criminals who "cannot harm society while confined or closely supervised." In the 1983 edition of the book, Wilson did not change the core "message of the first edition," namely, that we cannot control crime "by exchanging slogans, rehearsing our ideology, or exaggerating the extent to which human nature or government institutions can be changed according to plan." And the book still ended deploring a crime debate guided by academics and others who "trifle with the wicked, make sport of the innocent, and encourage the calculators. Justice suffers, and so do we all."

Two years later, Wilson co-authored with the Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein Crime & Human Nature: The Definitive Study of the Causes of Crime. The book was "definitive" in the sense that it weighed the evidence on virtually all the "independent variables" that scientists in many different fields had studied in relation to crime (biological and genetic factors, age, intelligence, family structure, schools, labor markets, and others). After more than 500 densely argued and obsessively footnoted pages, Crime and Human Nature offered no easy answers about the causes of crime. But that was its answer. Especially regarding the perennial debate over whether criminals are "born or made," Wilson and Herrnstein took pride in having demonstrated beyond a reasonable empirical doubt that "the question is badly phrased." Alas, "partitioning variations in criminality between two types of causes neglects, obviously, the complex interactions that exist between those causes."

I once asked Wilson how the little-read 1983 edition of Thinking About Crime would have been different if he knew then what he and Herrnstein knew in 1985. "It would have been longer and it would have sold even fewer copies," he quipped. I also asked him why crime and bureaucracy became so central to his research and writing life. "Accidents," he said. He started studying crime because the opportunity to ride around with cops presented itself when he was a graduate student, and nobody else volunteered. And he started studying bureaucracy because teaching a "public administration" course was in his Harvard contract. But what kept Wilson engaged in both cases was the fact that, at least so far as his early book reading in each domain enabled him to judge, nobody had yet really figured out how to think about crime or bureaucracy.

Thinking about Bureaucracy

Wilson's trilogy on bureaucracy begins with Political Organizations (1973), continues with The Investigators: Managing FBI and Narcotics Agents (1978), and culminates with Bureaucracy. Treating Political Organizations as the first of his books on "bureaucracy" may seem odd. After all, the book is generally read as a study about how interest groups influence policymaking, and also as a work that mediates disputes between so-called rational choice theorists and other schools of thought about how policy making works.

But the crux of the book is a "theory of incentives" that Wilson and a friend of his from graduate school, Peter Clark, co-developed under Banfield's tutelage in 1961. The theory, which undergirds all his subsequent work on bureaucracy, concerns how formal organizations constrain individual behavior, and how different types of organizations use different types of incentives to induce individuals to join, sustain membership, and contribute their time, energy, or other resources. Wilson posits that there are three main types of incentives: solidary, the sense of pleasure, status, or companionship that arises out of meeting people in groups; material, including money, or things and services readily valued in monetary terms; and purposive, a psychic benefit that comes from serving a cause, defending a principle, or advancing a purpose that one values. Wilson and Clark noted in 1961 that organizations often switch their incentive systems. What Wilson explained in 1973 was that certain types of political organizations do the same, sometimes when they must, and other times when their leaders wish.

For instance, labor unions (the topic of the book's seventh chapter) can induce membership by offering better wages, friendships, and a common vision. When times are hard, they may rely more on social or purposive incentives to get and keep members. When laws change, they may lose members who joined only because they felt compelled to do so. Or when ideologically committed leaders rise to power, they may emphasize abstract beliefs to a degree that does more to alienate than to animate the rank and file. Using Wilson's framework, other social scientists have attempted to explain changes in diverse political organizations' memberships and lobbying prowess.

Political Organizations was Wilson's most theoretical work. In The Investigators he compared the leadership, management, and cultures of the Drug Enforcement Agency to that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On one level, the book attempted to explain why the former agency had avoided tackling anti-drug law enforcement while the latter agency had bounced between two distinct approaches to nabbing dealers and disrupting narcotics distribution networks at home and abroad. On a deeper level, however, The Investigators, like Political Organizations, was all about applying Wilson's old incentive theory. But it took Wilson nearly another dozen years to read all the relevant books, write Bureaucracy, and crystallize this insight: while interest groups' and most other political organizations' incentives systems are often determined from the top down by the organizations' external masters or internal leaders, government agencies' incentives systems more commonly "emerge from within the organization" and from the "bottom up." The key to understanding "what government agencies do and why they do it" is to understand that "the work of government agencies actually gets defined" not by elected leaders, lobbyists, political appointees, program beneficiaries, professional policy analysts, political pundits, or the public at large, but by the agency's workaday "operators," the men and women who are paid to perform the organization's "critical tasks."

[G]overnment executives have limited influence over subordinates because the incentives controlled by managers are weak and hard to manipulate. Thus in a public bureaucracy the tasks of its key operators are likely to be defined by naturally occurring rather than by agency-supplied incentives…. Suppose you take a job as a police officer, prison guard, school teacher, State Department desk officer, or inspector in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When you report for work the behavior of your clients and the technology available to you will powerfully shape what you do, no matter what the stated goals of the organization may be.


In yet another echo of what he wrote with Banfield in City Politics, Wilson's preface to Bureaucracy advised that the book was "neither…very practical" nor will you "learn very much—if anything—about how to run a government agency (though you might learn why it persists in running in a certain way despite your best efforts to change it)."

Why read it then? Only because you are interested, and might want to know a little more about why our government works the way it does. To me, that is justification enough. It has been for almost thirty years.


Wilson leaned on doctoral dissertations and seminar papers written by his former graduate students. As he read all that work plus scores of other books on the subject, he concluded that, except during the period in which a new agency is founded, leadership in government agencies is inevitably limited. The only real question for agency leaders is whether "their management systems and administrative arrangements are well or poorly suited to the tasks the agencies actually perform."

I was deeply honored that Wilson heavily cited my own research on managing prisons. And, apart from "our" textbook, Bureaucracy was the only one of his books that he shared fully with me as he drafted and re-drafted it. But I disagreed, fundamentally, with his conclusions about the limits of leadership in government agencies. My 1994 article, "Principled Agents: The Cultural Bases of Behavior in a Federal Government Bureaucracy," helped persuade him to amend, but not abandon, how he thought about leadership in government agencies. What would it take to get him to go all the way? "Buckle down and write the book," he cheerfully challenged me more than once. Regrettably, I never did.

Understanding Politics

Figuring out how to think about bureaucracy and crime is not easy, but figuring out how to think about politics and morality is much harder. Wilson waited until he was 60 to tackle morality in earnest, and he spent his entire career thinking and rethinking the nature of politics.

Wilson concluded that his single most significant insight about politics related to how political power is (or, as importantly, is not) distributed in America, and how policymaking actually works. The answer to "who governs" is not simple, though many theories make it seem so. The answer is not the selfish rich, the bovine bourgeoisie, the power elite, or government bureaucrats. Nor is the answer an obstructionist Congress, an imperial presidency, an activist judiciary, or we the people.

Rather, as Wilson teaches in American Government: Institutions and Policies, "the distribution of political power" cannot be "inferred simply by knowing what laws are on the books." Who "did what in government is not hard to find out, but who wielded power—that is, who made a difference in the outcome and for what reason—is much harder to discover." Although "political scientists ought to be able to give clear answers, amply supported by evidence," in "reality they can (at best) give partial, contingent, and controversial answers."

Wilson offered a brilliant set of these answers as a fourfold "way of classifying and explaining the politics of different policy issues." Majoritarian politics promises benefits to large numbers of people at a cost that large numbers of people have to bear. Interest group politics confers benefits on some relatively small, identifiable group and imposes costs on another small, identifiable group. Client politics benefits some identifiable, often small, group, but everybody—or at least a large part of society—will pay the costs. Finally, entrepreneurial politics benefits society as a whole or some large part of it while imposing substantial costs on some small, identifiable segment of society, down to a particular group or industry.

Wilson stressed four things about this matrix of costs and benefits. First, it is the perceived distribution of costs and benefits that matters. Whether Social Security is a "majoritarian" issue depends on whether you believe, in effect, that "everybody benefits, everybody pays." Second, issues can "migrate" from one type to another. Let another energy crisis create long lines for $10-a-gallon gasoline and the regulatory regime will quickly slip into something less comfortable for the oil industry than client politics. Third, it is under some conditions possible for even a previously disorganized, disempowered, or unpopular group to gain real influence; just ask former General Motors executives about the "entrepreneurial politics" mastered by Ralph Nader. Finally, each policy domain involves predictably different (and larger or smaller) roles for different governmental and nongovernmental organizations (parties, interest groups, media outlets, and others) and for public opinion.

All Grown Up

During his last decade, Wilson worried more than he had previously about what, in the closing paragraph of his textbook, he described as "a decline in public confidence in those who manage…government. We expect more and more from government," he observed, "but are less and less certain that we will get it, or get it in a form and at a cost that we find acceptable."

We talked about this problem now and again, and he encouraged me to write about it. Maybe, he suggested, this was a moment to recall what Banfield had taught him about all political problems being at bottom moral problems. "I've got it," I joked. "Let's pass a law requiring everyone to read The Moral Sense."

Or maybe I was only half-joking. The Moral Sense is Wilson's best book. On nearly every page, poetry punctuates the social science prose. Here, for example, is how Wilson referees the intramural social science debate between, on the one side, anthropologists who believe that "[m]an has no nature other than an ability to acquire a culture," and, on the other side, economists and psychologists who believe that "man has a nature and it is a calculating one."

To me, "man is a social animal" who struggles to reconcile the partially warring parts of his universally occurring nature—the desire for survival and sustenance with the desire for companionship and approval. And not just a social animal by accident, but a social animal by nature—that is, as the consequence of biological predispositions selected for over eons of evolutionary history.


Or this:

Human nature is knowable only in broad outline; human wants and the best means for satisfying them are not knowable at all by any single mind or single agency. Democratic politics matches, better than any alternative, the diversity and spontaneity of the human spirit.


Or, finally, these last lines in the book's concluding section, "The Light of Human Nature":

Mankind's moral sense is not a strong beacon light, radiating outward to illuminate in sharp outline all that it touches. It is, rather, a small candle flame, casting vague and multiple shadows, flickering and sputtering in the strong winds of power and passion, greed and ideology. But brought close to the heart and cupped in one's hands, it dispels the darkness and warms the soul.


Wilson never complained about anything, but I knew he wished The Moral Sense had reached a wider audience and done more to influence the sciences of pro-social and moral behavior.

But he pushed on, publishing in 2002 The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families. While the book's concluding admonition concerned husbands and wives, it could as well be applied to taxpayers, community members, and citizens more generally:

The collective good—that is, the obligation to share resources, live together, raise children in concert, and avoid sexual temptations—seems to improve individual lives. But to understand the benefits of that commitment one has to be—well, grown up…. But not everyone is grown up.


From Professor James Q. Wilson, we will receive no more instruction on how to think about crime, bureaucracy, politics, or morality. But we do not need more. He was a grown-up for all seasons, and he left us his books.