Political Scientist, Par Excellence

"Political Scientist, Par Excellence," Weekly Standard, 12 March 2012.


James Q. Wilson, a longtime teacher in the government department at Harvard, and an all-time political scientist, has died. He was a Californian who went to college at the University of Redlands, got his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and then came to Harvard. At the end of his career, he went back home, taught at UCLA and Pepperdine, and with his wife Roberta, made a dream home in Malibu.

He was the most complete political scientist of his generation, always at the forefront, active in “the profession” and prominent in the university. His long list of books began with a study of the McGovernite phenomenon, The Amateur Democrat, and then a book—Negro Politics, in the nomenclature of the time—introducing the subject of ethnicity to the study of political science. He did not lead a life of crime, but he contributed several books to the study of crime and human nature, including a book on the FBI and another with the wonderful title Varieties of Police Behavior. He coauthored the famous theory of “broken windows”—arguing that law enforcement needed to be concerned with the details of orderliness and with preserving the appearance of a “good neighborhood.”

Weekly Standard