Ross Douthat

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Author and Influential Blogger

An influential new conservative voice.

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Biography

Ross Douthat is the youngest Op-Ed Columnist in the history of The New York Times. Representing a new generation of conservative commentator, Ross enlivens the editorial pages of the Times with his vigorous and penetrating analysis of domestic and international politics and government.

A breath of fresh air in the usually predictable world of op-ed, Ross is equally at ease exploring the impact of Judd Apatow’s film comedies on the social issues of the day as he is explicating the intricacies of the latest health care reform proposal. He combines thoughtful analysis and a big picture context that reminds some observers of another Times luminary, the columnist Thomas Friedman.

Ross’s newest book is titled Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. He brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day.

He is also the author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, a blistering critique of the University as a world of privilege and complacency that first brought him attention as an important new voice to be heeded. With Reihan Salam, he co-authored Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. The book has been widely praised for its thoughtful, moderate conservative approach to solving America’s social ills and reinvigorating the diminished Republican party in the age of Obama.

Formerly a senior editor and blogger at The Atlantic, Ross has written on topics ranging from higher education to national politics to celebrities' religious conversions. He continues to grow his online influence in a new lively, blog at Times.com called "The Conversation," with Gail Collins, also of the Times.

His writing is credited with helping the foundering conservative movement find a new relevance and new constituencies in 21st century America.

Eloquent, thoughtful, and insightful, Ross shines new light on every topic he explores, whether it be the Iraq War, the abortion question, health care, Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, or American’s evolving role in the world.

Credentials

  • Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
  • Senior Editor, The Atlantic
  • Contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Policy Review, and Details
  • Contributor, The Harvard Crimson, and Editor, The Harvard Salient
  • BA, magna cum laude, Harvard University, 2002

Books

Bad Religion

How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Ross Douthat

As the youngest-ever op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails — and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits — conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual” — and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity — not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith—which acted as a “vital center” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement—through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich,” a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.

Free Press; Reprint edition (16 April 2013)
Free Press (17 April 2012)

Book Review

Breaking FaithThe New York Times

Grand New Party

How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam

In a provocative challenge to Republican conventional wisdom, two of the Right's rising young thinkers call upon the GOP to focus on the interests and needs of working-class voters.

Grand New Party lays bare the failures of the conservative revolution and presents a detailed blueprint for building the next Republican majority. Blending history, analysis, and fresh, often controversial recommendations, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam argue that it is time to move beyond the Reagan legacy and the current Republican power structure. With specific proposals covering such hot-button topics as immigration, health care, and taxes, Grand New Party shakes up the Right, challenges the Left, and confronts the changing political landscape.

Anchor Books; Reprint edition (2 Jun 2009)
Doubleday Books; 1 edition (24 Jun 2008)

Praise

"Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam are two dazzlingly smart and blazingly original young conservatives. In Grand New Party, they give Republicans — and all Americans interested in mending broken families and giving everyone a fair chance — some excellent advice, not just about political strategy but also on public policy."
— Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report

"They give a concise, penetrating and insightful history of political movements and social dynamics through the 20th century and explain the plight of the working class."
— Norman Ornstein, writing in The New York Times

"If you want to read a serious, sane, secular, constructive argument about where conservatism needs to go, this is a great place to start. Few conservatives are as honest about the practical policy challenges the right faces in an increasingly pluralist and unequal society. And very few actually have something positive to offer in the face of it. I disagreed with much of this book, but I never failed to be enlightened and provoked on almost every page."
— Andrew Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul

Privilege

Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class

Ross Douthat

In the spirit of Scott Turow's One L and David Brooks's Bobos in Paradise, a penetrating critique of elite universities and the culture of privilege they perpetuate, written by a recent Harvard alumnus.

Part memoir, part social critique, Privilege is an absorbing assessment of one of the world's most celebrated universities: Harvard. In this sharp, insightful account, Douthat evaluates his social and academic education — most notably, his frustrations with pre-established social hierarchies and the trumping of intellectual rigor by political correctness and personal ambition. The book addresses the spectacles of his time there, such as the embezzlement scandal at the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Professor Cornel West's defection to Princeton. He also chronicles the more commonplace but equally revealing experiences, including social climbing, sexual relations, and job hunting.

While the book's narrative centers on Harvard, its main arguments have a much broader concern: the state of the American college experience. Privilege is a pointed reflection on students, parents, and even administrators and professors who perceive specific schools merely as stepping-stones to high salaries and elite social networks rather than as institutions entrusted with academic excellence.

A book full of insightful perceptions and illuminating detail, Privilege is sure to spark endless debates inside and outside the ivied walls.

Hyperion Books; 1 edition (1 April 2006)
Hyperion Books (14 Feb 2005)

Praise

"Douthat skewers the political and sexual shenanigans of his classmates and provides a thoughtful analysis of the prevailing liberal politics of the campus."
— The New Yorker

"Douthat offers a withering indictment of Harvard's institutional culture, a culture in which the administration (and not just the president), the faculty, and the students have all drifted into self-congratulatory complacency."
— Booklist

Topics

Ross tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

American culture and religion

Videos

Feedback

A major university public lecture series:
Your lecture was clearly well prepared and definitely engaging, and your responses to audience questions, both at the end of the lecture and during the morning session, were thorough, thoughtful, and respectful of diverse perspectives. I believe our constituents, of various political persuasions, went away pleased that they had come, and must have felt that they had benefited from your reflections on issues that are so critical to all of us. We very much enjoyed having you.

Articles

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