Revilo P. Oliver

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Revilo P. Oliver
Revilo P. Oliver in 1963
Revilo P. Oliver in 1963
BornRevilo Pendleton Oliver
(1908-07-07)July 7, 1908
Corpus Christi, Texas
DiedAugust 20, 1994(1994-08-20) (aged 86)
Urbana, Illinois
Pen nameRalph Perrier
Paul Knutson
OccupationAuthor, professor, commentator
Alma materPomona College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
SubjectAmerican conservatism, politics, anti-communism, White nationalism, religion
SpouseGrace Needham

Revilo Pendleton Oliver (July 7, 1908 – August 20, 1994) was an American professor of Classical philology, Spanish, and Italian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After World War II, he published in American Opinion, becoming known as a polemicist for white nationalist and right-wing causes.

Oliver also briefly attracted national notoriety in the 1960s when he published an article after the President John F. Kennedy assassination, suggesting that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a Soviet conspiracy against the United States. He was called to testify before the Warren Commission investigating the murder.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Revilo Pendleton Oliver was born in 1908 near Corpus Christi, Texas. He attended two years of high school in Illinois. Disliking the severe winters, and once requiring hospitalization "for one of the first mastoidectomies performed as more than a daring experiment", he relocated to California, where he studied Sanskrit. He used Max Müller's handbooks and Monier Williams' grammar, later finding a Hindu missionary to tutor him.[2]

As an adolescent, he found amusement in watching evangelists "pitch the woo at the simple-minded", attending performances of Aimee Semple McPherson and Katherine Tingley.[2] He entered Pomona College in Claremont, California, when he was sixteen.[3]


In 1930, Oliver married Grace Needham. He returned to Illinois, where he attended the University of Illinois and studied under William Abbott Oldfather. His first book was an annotated translation, from the Sanskrit, of Mricchakatika (The Little Clay Cart), published by the University of Illinois in 1938. He received his PhD in 1940.[3] That same year, the University published his Ph.D. thesis: Niccolò Perotti's Translations of the Enchiridion, which was republished in 1954 as Niccolo Perotti's Version of the Enchiridion of Epictetus.[4]

Oliver began teaching graduate classes. For a number of years he also gave graduate courses in the Renaissance, teaching in the Departments of Spanish and Italian.[3]

During World War II Oliver said that he worked at an unnamed War Department agency from 1942 until the autumn of 1945, writing, "By good luck, I found myself in charge of a rapidly expanding department, and ...responsible for the work of c. 175 persons."[3]

Oliver left Washington, D.C. in 1945. He returned to the University of Illinois as an Assistant Professor, became an Associate Professor in 1947, and Professor in 1953.[5] He published little in the academic press but later became known for politically conservative articles expressing anti-Semitism and white nationalism.[citation needed]

Conservative movement[edit]

In November 1955, William F. Buckley, a graduate of Yale, founded the National Review, a magazine to express a conservative viewpoint.[6] Buckley would later claim that he worked to increase conservatism's respectability, prohibiting publication by anti-Semites or extremists such as Oliver, but he employed Oliver, his "close friend", as a book reviewer for the National Review for many years before finally breaking with him over his 1964 article on the Kennedy assassination.[7]

In 1958, Oliver joined Robert W. Welch, Jr. as one of the founding members of the conservative, anti-Communist John Birch Society.[8] Oliver wrote frequently for the Birch Society magazine American Opinion.[citation needed] In 1962, Buckley repudiated Welch and the "Birchers", saying they were "far removed from common sense" and urging the GOP to purge itself of Welch's influence.[9]

Oliver attracted attention from his university and the media by his two-part article called "Marxmanship in Dallas", published in February 1964 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He said that Lee Harvey Oswald had carried out the murder as part of a Communist conspiracy; and that the Communists wanted to kill Kennedy, whom Oliver described as a puppet who had outlived his usefulness.[10] His comments were reported by the New York Times.[11] In March 1964, the Los Angeles Times reported that Oliver had been reprimanded by the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees for his remarks, but was allowed to keep his position.[12] Oliver testified in the fall of that year before the Warren Commission.[1]

White nationalism[edit]

In the 1960s, Oliver broke with American conservatism.[7] Having become convinced that Welch had either tricked him or sold out to Zionist interests, he objected to what he called "the Birch hoax." He was "forced to resign" from the Society on 30 July 1966.[13][8] Oliver later claimed in 1981 to have discovered that Welch "was merely the nominal head of the Birch business, which he operated under the supervision of a committee of Jews."[8]

Oliver subsequently became involved with Willis Carto's National Youth Alliance (NYA).[8] The National Alliance website claims that Oliver worked with William Luther Pierce in the early years of the NYA.[14] Pierce later wrote The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel about a race war and overthrow of the United States government.[15]

In 1978, Oliver became an editorial adviser for the Institute for Historical Review, an organization devoted primarily to Holocaust denial.[8] He was also a regular contributor to Liberty Bell magazine but received no mainstream notice.[citation needed]

Later years and death[edit]

Oliver retired in 1977.[16] In 1994, suffering from leukemia and severe emphysema, he committed suicide at the age of 86 in Urbana, Illinois. His estate arranged to publish several works posthumously through Historical Review Press and Liberty Bell, as well as to attend to the needs of his wife Grace in her declining years.[citation needed]


Oliver believed that religion was one of the major weaknesses of his nation and civilization. In a 1990 article, he characterized Christianity as "a spiritual syphilis" that "has rotted the minds of our race and induced paralysis of our will to live."[17]

Damon T. Berry, in his book Blood and Faith: Christianity and American White Nationalism (Syracuse University Press, 2017), devotes an entire chapter to Oliver, concluding that "Oliver hated both conservativism and Christianity...because they equally represented to him an ideological poison that was alien to the best instincts of the white race to defend its existence." (p. 41)

Name and pseudonyms[edit]

"Revilo P. Oliver" is a palindrome—a phrase that reads the same backwards and forwards. One of his articles was denounced as a fraud because readers thought his palindromic name was suspect. Oliver said his name had been given to first sons in his family for six generations.[18]

He used the pen names "Ralph Perier" (for The Jews Love Christianity and Religion and Race) and "Paul Knutson" (for Aryan Asses). Oliver is sometimes credited as the author of the Introduction (credited to Willis Carto) to Francis Parker Yockey's Imperium.[citation needed]



  • The Little Clay Cart. Urbana: University of Illinois Press (1938).
  • Niccolò Perotti's Translations of the Enchiridion. University of Illinois Press (1940).
  • History and Biology. Griff Press (1963).
  • All America Must Know the Terror that Is Upon Us. Bakersfield: Conservative Viewpoint (1966); Liberty Bell Publications (1975).
  • Conspiracy or Degeneracy?. Power Products (1967).
  • Christianity and the Survival of the West. Sterling, VA: Sterling Enterprises (1973).
    • Reprinted, with new postscript: Cape Canaveral: Howard Allen (1978). ISBN 978-0914576129.
  • The Jews Love Christianity. Liberty Bell Publications (1980). Published under the pseudonym "Ralph Perrier."
  • America's Decline: The Education of a Conservative. London: Londinium Press (1981).
  • The Enemy of Our Enemies. Liberty Bell Publications (1981).
  • "Populism" and "Elitism". Liberty Bell Publications (1982). ISBN 978-0942094015.
  • Christianity Today: Four Articles. Liberty Bell Publications (1987). OCLC 166141772.
  • The Yellow Peril. Liberty Bell Publications (1983). ISBN 0942094115.

Published posthumously[edit]

  • The Origins of Christianity. Historical Review Press (1994).
  • Reflections on the Christ Myth. Historical Review Press (1994).
  • The Origins of Christianity. Historical Review Press (2001).
  • The Jewish Strategy. Palladian Books (2002). Internet Archive (audio).
  • Against the Grain. Liberty Bell Publications (2004).

Book contributions[edit]

  • Commentary in Destroy the Accuser, by Frederick Seelig. Foreword by Westbrook Pegler. Miami, Florida: Freedom Press Publishing Co. (1967).


Speeches and broadcasts[edit]

Articles by other authors[edit]


  1. ^ a b Warren Commission Hearings, XV, Nov 1964, p. 709
  2. ^ a b Oliver, Revilo P. (2002), The Jewish Strategy, Earlysville, Virginia: Kevin Alfred Strom, p. v
  3. ^ a b c d Oliver 2002, p. vi.
  4. ^ Ferguson, John (Nov 1957), "Review of Books: Niccolo Perotti's Version of the Enchiridion of Epictetus, edited with an introduction and a list of Perotti's writings", The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 77 (1): 173–4, doi:10.2307/628666, JSTOR 628666
  5. ^ Oliver 2002, p. vi-vii.
  6. ^ Buckley, William F., Jr. (19 Nov 1955), "Our Mission Statement", National Review, archived from the original on 3 Mar 2008
  7. ^ a b Gordon, David (Apr 1992), "In Search of Buckley's 'Hypersensitivity to Anti-Semitism'", The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, III (4), p. 4
  8. ^ a b c d e Macklin, Graham (2012). "Transatlantic Connections and Conspiracies: A.K. Chesterton and The New Unhappy Lords". Journal of Contemporary History. 47 (2): 270–290. doi:10.1177/0022009411431723. ISSN 0022-0094. S2CID 153984405.
  9. ^ Buckley, William F., Jr. (Mar 2008), "Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me", Commentary, archived from the original on 8 Mar 2008, retrieved 9 Mar 2008
  10. ^ Oliver, Revilo P. (Feb 1964). "Marxmanship in Dallas". American Opinion. Retrieved 1 Sep 2006.
  11. ^ "KENNEDY TARGET OF BIRCH WRITER; Article Says He Was Killed for Fumbling Red Plot". Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  12. ^ "Professor Censured for Attack on Kennedy", Los Angeles Times, p. 11, 19 Mar 1964
  13. ^ Connor, Claire (2013), Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right, Beacon Press, pp. 40–43, 99, 191, and ch. 6, footnote #11
  14. ^ "What is the National Alliance?", National Alliance, retrieved 29 Apr 2019
  15. ^ "Extremism in America: The Turner Diaries", Anti-Defamation League, retrieved 29 Apr 2019
  16. ^ Oliver 2002, p. vii.
  17. ^ Oliver, Revilo P. (Nov 1990), "A Cringing Lord", Liberty Bell, retrieved 1 Sep 2006
  18. ^ Oliver 2002, p. v: "My first name, an obvious palindrome, has been the burden of the eldest or only son for six generations."

External links[edit]