He went off to study for the priesthood at St. Louis University, and at the last minute he switched to philosophy. When he was only twenty-two years old, he sent a parody of a Time magazine article to the conservative National Review. Editor William F. Buckley Jr. read the essay and made Wills a regular contributor. Wills worked there for ten years, but during the 1960s, he started traveling around the country, writing about protests and race riots. He began to argue against the Vietnam War and for federal support of civil rights. He continued to call himself a conservative, but other conservatives called him a traitor. He became the endangered species of political writer who can anger both liberals and conservatives equally easily.
He argued that government could solve people's problems, but also that religion should play a role in public life. His first important book was Nixon Agonistes (1970), about Nixon's 1968 campaign for the presidency. Since then he has written more than twenty other books about religion, as well as Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth; The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power; Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence; Reagan's America about the presidency of Ronald Reagan; John Wayne's America: the Politics of Celebrity; Lincoln at Gettysburg, and the power of the Pope in Certain Trumpets: the Nature of Leadership.
In Saint Augustine's Sin (2003) Wills examines the life of the bishop and saint and sets out to demythologize him.
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