On Politics by Alan Ryan
A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Alan Ryan

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Alan Ryan was warden of New College, Oxford University, and professor of political theory. The author of On Politics, John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism and Bertrand Russell: A Political Life, he currently teaches politics at Princeton University.
 
Published October 22, 2012 by Liveright. 1147 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for On Politics

Kirkus Reviews

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An ambitious survey not of politics itself, but of the way Westerners have thought about politics for 2,500 years.

Oct 08 2012 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

Publishers Weekly

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Book 1: From Herodotus to Machiavelli. Remarkably detailed yet highly readable, the first volume of this monumental history of political theory covers an enormous span of time and wealth of

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

The Economist

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On Politics: A History of Political Philosophy from Herodotus to the Present.

Dec 15 2012 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

Daily Kos

[ Parent ].

Jan 09 2013 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

Daily Kos

Not because it's a bad book - it is a great book - but because Johnson was so viciously nasty that I had to stop for a bit.

Jan 02 2013 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

Daily Kos

Henry Louis Gates - of "beer summit" fame, and host of a genealogical TV show on PBS for awhile - wrote one of the jacket blurbs for the book, saying he learned something new on practically every page.

Jan 16 2013 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

The New Yorker

“On Politics,” a magisterial new two-volume history of political philosophy, begins with ancient Greece and ends by addressing the flaws and fears of liberal democracies after the Second World War.

Oct 29 2012 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

The New York Review of Books

In matters where their authority overlapped, no one could quite agree who was subordinate to whom: Was the temporal authority of the pope (such as it was) a donation from the emperor or was the emperor’s authority legitimized by the church?.

Feb 21 2013 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

The New York Review of Books

On Politics: A History of Political Thought Book One: Herodotus to Machiavelli Book Two: Hobbes to the Present.

Feb 21 2013 | Read Full Review of On Politics: A History of Pol...

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