John Derbyshire, photographed in June 2001
June 3, 1945 |
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
|Residence||Huntington, New York (State),
|Citizenship||United States of America|
|Alma mater||University College London, University of London|
John Derbyshire (born June 3, 1945) is a British-born naturalized American writer, journalist and commentator. He formerly wrote a column in National Review. He has also written for the New English Review. These columns cover a broad range of political-cultural topics, including immigration, China, history, mathematics, and race. Derbyshire's 1996 novel, Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year". His 2004 non-fiction book, Prime Obsession, won the Mathematical Association of America's inaugural Euler Book Prize. A new political book, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, was released in September 2009 through Crown Forum.
Derbyshire attended the Northampton School for Boys and graduated from University College London, of the University of London, where he studied mathematics. Before turning to writing full-time, he worked on Wall Street as a computer programmer.
Beliefs and disagreements with fellow National Review writers
Derbyshire has differed from his fellow writers at National Review on many subjects. For example, Derbyshire supported Michael Schiavo's position in the Terri Schiavo case, ridiculed George W. Bush's "itty-bitty tax cut, paid for by dumping a slew of federal debt on your children and grandchildren", has derided Bush in general for being too sure of his religious convictions and for his "rich-kid-ness", dismisses small-government conservatism as unlikely to ever take hold (although he is not unsympathetic to it), has called for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (but favored the invasion), opposes market reforms or any other changes in Social Security, is pro-choice on abortion, supports euthanasia in a fairly wide range of circumstances, and has suggested that he might (in a time of international crisis) vote for Hillary Clinton as president.
Derbyshire's views on the Schiavo case attracted criticism from fellow writers at National Review Online such as Ramesh Ponnuru. The Derbyshire-Ponnuru dispute arose again over Ponnuru's recently published book, Party of Death. Derbyshire reviewed the book harshly in the New English Review, and Ponnuru replied on NRO with a strongly worded rebuttal.
Though Derbyshire broadly agrees with many other writers at National Review Online on immigration, he encountered strong opposition from former NRO blogger John Podhoretz, who described Derbyshire's comments on restricting immigration to maintain "ethnic balance" in severe terms: "But maintaining 'ethnic balance' is not fine. It is chillingly, horrifyingly not fine." In response, fellow Corner contributor Jonah Goldberg, who described himself as philosophically "in the middle" of the two, noted:
I should say that I think JPod is getting too hung up on the phrase "ethnic balance" as a codeword for all sorts of unlovely things. It seems to me that if you're going to sit down and have any immigration policy at all, it's unavoidable that you're going to address the issue of ethnic balance in one way or another, no matter what you call it. Ultimately, you have to choose where people come from if you have an immigration policy, even if you emphasize other factors like skills or family unification. So you can either look at it directly or you can skirt around it. But you can't avoid it.
He wrote about American schooling in his book We Are Doomed, "Education is a vast sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and careerist log-rolling." He further argued that people "had better brace ourselves for the catastrophe" coming as a result.
Derbyshire also has said that America would be better off if women did not have the right to vote. In 2005, in a monthly column containing a series of miscellaneous musings, he stated that women's physical attractiveness peaks between ages 15–20, a comment which also drew considerable criticism.
In an August 2012 article, Derbyshire summed up his view of American society by saying that it is "slipping into totalitarianism: into a state of affairs where to hold certain opinions is to be excluded from normal society, to be unemployable" He also stated that "given enough advance warning, I can probably get my own wife and kids out to the comparative sanity and freedom of China." He wrote:
The thought came upon me, as it has done quite a lot this past few years, that I shall likely end up in a labor camp. I can't keep my mouth shut; I can't clap along with the Kumbaya; and I can't pretend assent to propositions that seem to me to be false. In the world we are fast heading into, that makes me camp fodder for sure.
Comments on race and multiculturalism
In April 2012, Derbyshire wrote an article for Taki's Magazine titled "The Talk: Nonblack Version." The article was a response to reports in the news media of 'talks' given by African-American parents to their children warning them against white people.
- The article, which he couched in terms of purported advice he had given his own children on dealing with African Americans, describes 5% of black people as "ferociously hostile" to whites.
- He then advises his readers to avoid settling in black neighborhoods, avoid events that draw large numbers of black people, and refrain from helping black people who seem to be in distress.
- He also advises white readers to scrutinize black politicians more heavily than white ones, to cultivate friendships with the handful of "intelligent and well socialized blacks" for reasons of public relations, and argued that the average intelligence of black people is lower than that of white people.
Derbyshire's column immediately provoked condemnation from across the political spectrum. Derbyshire's editor at the conservative publication National Review, Rich Lowry, described the piece as "appalling." On April 7, Lowry announced that Derbyshire had been dismissed from National Review: "We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we'd never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways."
In response to the commentary provoked by his piece, Derbyshire wrote a more extensive explanation of the points made in the article on his home page. Derbyshire also defended his position in an interview with Alex Kurtagić for the white nationalist American Renaissance magazine.
After the National Review termination, Derbyshire was picked up by VDARE, an anti-immigration website which he has written in since. A 2012 statement by him on the site that "White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with" attracted strong criticism. He responded by arguing that African-Americans implicitly agree given that they have been willing to live in the majority white U.S.
Derbyshire's book, Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics was first published in hardcover in 2003 and then paperback in 2004. It focuses on the Riemann hypothesis, one of the Millennium Problems. The book is aimed, as Derbyshire puts it in his prologue, "at the intelligent and curious but nonmathematical reader... I think I have pitched my book to the level of a person who finished high school math satisfactorily and perhaps went on to a couple of college courses...."
Prime Obsession explores such topics as complex numbers, field theory, the prime number theorem, the zeta function, the harmonic series, and others. The biographical sections give relevant information about the lives of mathematicians who worked in these areas, including Euler, Gauss, Lejeune Dirichlet, Lobachevsky, Chebyshev, Vallée-Poussin, Hadamard, as well as Riemann himself.
In 2006, Joseph Henry Press published another Derbyshire book of popular mathematics: Unknown Quantity: A Real And Imaginary History of Algebra.
Role in Way of the Dragon
Derbyshire had an uncredited role in Way of the Dragon (released in the United States as Return of the Dragon), a 1972 martial arts-comedy film directed by, and starring Bruce Lee. Of landing the part, Derbyshire said: "The casting director had obviously just trawled around the low-class guesthouses for unemployed foreigners of a sufficiently thuggish appearance." 
Derbyshire is married to Lynette Rose, or Rosie, née Qi (齐红玫; Qi Hongmei), who grew up in the People's Republic of China and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen. They have two children, a daughter and a son. He lives in Huntington, New York. He often recounted observations from his personal life in his former monthly column, "The Straggler", in National Review. Derbyshire said of his family, "Our two children are, as they are already tired of being told, half English coal miner, half Chinese peasant, 100 percent American."
- Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream (St. Martin's Griffin, 1997) ISBN 0-312-15649-9
- Fire From the Sun (Xlibris Corporation, 2000) ISBN 0-7388-4721-6
- Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics (Plume Books, 2003) ISBN 0-452-28525-9
- Unknown Quantity: A Real And Imaginary History of Algebra (Joseph Henry Press, 2006) ISBN 0-309-09657-X
- We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism (Crown Forum, 2009) ISBN 0-307-40958-9, ISBN 978-0-307-40958-4
He has also written numerous articles for various publications, including National Review, The New Criterion, The American Conservative and The Washington Times and maintained a weekly audio commentary on current events on the National Review website.
- "John Derbyshire archive". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- "Articles by John Derbyshire at New English Review". New English Review. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- "The Mathematical Association of America's Euler Book Prize". MAA Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- John Derbyshire (2005-05-10). "Twilight of Conservatism". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- John Derbyshire (2006-07-05). "Gone, but Not Forgotten". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- John Derbyshire (2005-06-24). "Just Got Back From The Windy City...". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- Ramesh Ponnuru (2005-03-23). "Contra Derbyshire". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- John Derbyshire (2006-06). "A Frigid and Pitiless Dogma". New English Review. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- Ponnuru, Ramesh (2006-06-07). "Unreason John Derbyshire vs. Pro-Lifers.". National Review Online. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- John Podhoretz (2006-05-12). "Ethnic Balance?". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- Jonah Goldberg (2006-05-12). "Superior Immigrants". National Review Online. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- Derbyshire, John (July 7, 2011). "The Credentialed Society". National Review. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- Shakir, Faiz (September 30, 2009). "National Review’s John Derbyshire: Women Should Not Have The Right To Vote". ThinkProgress. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- "Northeast Asia heating up?". National Review Online. November 30, 2005. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- "John Derbyshire fired over racism, but what about his sexualization of 15 year-old girls?". Hugo Schwyzer. April 8, 2012.
- Derbyshire, John (April 5, 2012). "The Talk: Nonblack Version". Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- Lowry, Rich (6 April 2012). "Derb's Screed". "The Corner". National Review Online. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Lowry, Rich (7 April 2012). "Parting Ways". "The Corner". National Review Online. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Radio Derb — Transcript, Friday, June 5, 2009
- Radio Derb — Transcript, Saturday, December 1st, 2012
- S. W. Graham. "Read This: Prime Obsession". The Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
- "Twelve questions for John Derbyshire". The Economist. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
- John Derbyshire (2003-10-15). "Thug (Uncredited)". National Review Online. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- "Family Album". Johnderbyshire.com. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
- Derbyshire, John (January, 2000). "Thinking About Internment". Chronicles. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- O'Connor, Maureen (9 April 2012). "‘I May Give Up Writing and Work as a Butler’: Interview with John Derbyshire". Gawker. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: John Derbyshire|
- John Derbyshire's home page, with archive of web and print articles
- Derbyshire's weekly podcast "Derb radio"
- Archive of Derbyshire articles for "National Review"
- Derbyshire's opinion of his Wikipedia biography