On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present
Three decades in the making, one of the most ambitious and comprehensive histories of political philosophy in nearly a century. Both a history and an examination of human thought and behavior spanning three thousand years, On Politics thrillingly traces the origins of political philosophy from the ancient Greeks to Machiavelli in Book I and from Hobbes to the present age in Book II. Whether examining Lord Acton’s dictum that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” or explicating John Stuart Mill’s contention that it is “better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied,” Alan Ryan evokes the lives and minds of our greatest thinkers in a way that makes reading about them a transcendent experience. Whether writing about Plato or Augustine, de Toqueville or Thomas Jefferson, Ryan brings a wisdom to his text that illuminates John Dewey’s belief that the role of philosophy is less to see truth than to enhance experience. With this unparalleled tour de force, Ryan emerges in his own right as one of the most influential political philosophers of our time.
Alan Ryan was warden of New College, Oxford University, where he was a professor of political theory. He is the author of John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism, Bertrand Russell: A Political Life, and On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present.
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Alan Ryan has created a vision of the entire surge of Western political thought which is equal to the heroic venture of George Sabine, which I studied in my youth. Ryan demonstrates throughout vivacity, and a tenacious grasp of the human meaning of everything that has transpired in political speculation from the ancients on through the threshhold of our own dark age. I commend particularly his terse eloquence, his capacious erudition, and the verve and judicious intensity with which he somehow allows his whole being to inform his vast scope and deep concern of our human limitations.
On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present 5 out of 5based on
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The author accomplished something that I have not encountered yet; a very in depth detailed account of political history. He does a wonderful job of taking you through the political climes and thoughts of all ages from Socrates and Aristotle into today's very divisive political arenas. The read is very long and information dense, so it will take some time to get through the material. Also, plan on devoting some time to diving deeper into certain topics and newly introduced political theorists. You may try to resist doing this, but your curiosity will not allow for it.
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