A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $30.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 62%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $30.00   
  • New (3) from $76.52   
  • Used (3) from $30.00   


The writings of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) have captivated scholars, activists, and ecologists for more than a century. Less attention has been paid, however, to the author's political philosophy and its influence on American public life. Although Thoreau's doctrine of civil disobedience has long since become a touchstone of world history, the greater part of his political legacy has been overlooked. With a resurgence of interest in recent years, A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau is the first volume focused exclusively on Thoreau's ethical and political thought.

Jack Turner illuminates the unexamined aspects of Thoreau's political life and writings. Combining both new and classic essays, this book offers a fresh and comprehensive understanding of Thoreau's politics, and includes discussions of subjects ranging from his democratic individualism to the political relevance of his intellectual eccentricity. The collection consists of works by sixteen prominent political theorists and includes an extended bibliography on Thoreau's politics. A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau is a landmark reference for anyone seeking a better understanding of Thoreau's complex political philosophy.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Over a dozen authors write a chapter that explores Thoreau's political activism, and through this gain an glimpse of the political discourse that led to the start of the American Civil War." — Naval District of Washington Waterline

"The first comprehensive collection focused exclusively on Thoreau as a political thinker." — UWnews.org

" A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau sheds new light on Thoreau's literary repertoire.... The collection also serves Thoreau well by setting him apart from his literary contemporaries.... [It] lift[s] Thoreau out of the American literary canon and recontextualize his work within the traditions of political theory. As such, researchers working beyond the confines of nineteenth-century literature will benefit greatly from this collection." — The Year's Work in English Studies

"The world knows Thoreau as a transcendentalist and literary naturalist, but less as a political thinker. Turner moves us in a fresh direction with this provocative new collection of essays by leading scholars in political science, philosophy, and ethics." — William L. Howarth, Princeton University, former editor in chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau

"A first-rate collection of essays, exploring Thoreau's contributions to the study of politics on issues ranging from freedom and democracy to individuality, self-cultivation, and the political imagination. Demonstrates persuasively that Thoreau continues to illuminate questions at the center of political theory today." — Sharon R. Krause, director of graduate studies and associate professor of political science, Brown University

"Promises to reinvigorate debates about a whole range of under explored themes in Walden and in the political thought of nineteenth-century America." — Bryan Garsten, associate professor of political science, Yale University

"An excellent starting point for the study of Thoreau as a political thinker.... This necessary companion for any serious student or scholar comprises Turner's informative overview of Thoreau's reemergence in contemporary political theory; eight reprinted essays published in the last 15 years by such established scholars as Nancy Rosenblum, Bob Pepperman Taylor, Jane Bennett, and Turner himself; eight new essays; a judiciously selected bibliography of commentary since 1950; and a substantive index. Critically and conceptually the collection covers a lot of ground." — William Rossi, American Literary Scholarship

"Critically and conceptually the collection covers a lot of ground, with essays arranged in four broad topics, ranging from debating Thoreau's identity as a democrat; analyzing his reception in post-1060s politics; his contributions to political theory, classical as well as contemporary; and the meteaphysical and ethical dimensions of his politics." — American Literary Scholarship

"Jack Turner has given us a remarkable and exemplary collection of essays in his A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau... It is a special merit of the way in which this collection of essays is conceived and organized that it presents itself as an ongoing conversation in which the individual critics discuss, again and again, not only and conventionally the philosophical opinions and political stances advanced by their predecessors, but also the positions taken by their colleagues in the volume itself." — Amerikastudien

The pieces in A Political Companion to Henry David Thoreau are well done and stimulating. If there is a chief concern in Turner's collection, it is the debate over whether Thoreau wrote and acted from private or public motives, whether his desire was to clear his own conscience or to repair the tear in the fabric of the American republic by speaking out against war and slavery. Modern Intellectual History

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813124780
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 6/11/2009
  • Series: Political Companions to Great American Authors
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Turner is assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington. His articles have appeared in Political Theory, Raritan, and Polity.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)