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Leo Strauss: An Introduction to His Thought and Intellectual Legacy (The Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought) Paperback – July 28, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


It is both welcome and timely that a scholar of the stature of Thomas Pangle should address this subject and treat the topic in a detached and philosophical spirit. Not only is he one of the most accomplished political theorists in the world today, but he is also a leading student of the thought of Leo Strauss. The book, first and foremost an introduction to the political philosophy of Leo Strauss focusing on larger themes and questions, is readable and accessible to a general, higher-level intellectual audience.

(James W. Ceaser, University of Virginia, author of Presidential Selection, Reforming Reforms, Liberal Democracy and Political Science, and Reconstructing America)

Pangle... brings to his task the remarkable erudition, and his volume may be said to have succeeded in restoring, and perhaps even deepening, the more sober view of Strauss's intention that prevailed in his lifetime and for a decade or so after death.

(Steven J. Lenzner Claremont Review of Books)

Pangle's bibliography at the end alone is worth the price of the book.

(Benjamin Wiker Crisis Magazine)

About the Author

Thomas L. Pangle holds the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His many acclaimed publications include The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age and Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham, both published by Johns Hopkins. He has also published a number of translations of Platonic dialogues, including The Laws of Plato and The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Socratic Dialogues.


Product Details

  • Series: The Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (July 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801884403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801884405
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Thomas L. Pangle is the Co-Director of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas and holds the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He held previously the University Professorship in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, and is a lifetime Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has taught at Yale, Dartmouth, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Oklahoma--where he was Feaver MacMinn Visiting Scholar, the University of Houston-- where he held the inaugural Ross M. Lence Master Teacher Residency in the Honors College, and the University of Chicago--where he also delivered the Exxon Distinguished Lectures in Humane Approaches to the Social Sciences.

Educated at Cornell University (BA) and the University of Chicago (PhD), he has won Guggenheim, Isaac Waltam Killam, Canada Council, Connaught, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Carl Friedrich von Siemens, and four National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships.

He has been awarded The Benton Bowl, Yale University (for contribution to education in politics), the Robert Foster Cherry Great Teacher of the World Prize, Baylor University, and with his wife Lorraine the American Freedom Alliance 2012 Hero of Conscience Award (for establishing a Great Books undergraduate program at U. of Texas). At the invitation of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences he delivered the Werner Heisenberg Memorial Prize Lecture.

He is a Founding Member of the Editorial Board of The Chinese Journal of Classical Studies, General Editor of The Agora Editions (Cornell U. Press), and is a member of the editorial boards of Political Research Quarterly, and Polis, Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought; of the Advisory Board, Centre for Liberal Education, Carleton University, Ottawa;and of the Council, North American Chapter, Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought. Together with Timothy Burns he edits the Palgrave Macmillan books series Recovering Political Philosophy. He has served as Senior Advisory Editor, Books in Canada: The Canadian Review of Books, and as a member of the Executive Council of the American Political Science Association.

He is the author of Montesquieu's Philosophy of Liberalism (U. of Chicago Press, 1973); The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke (U. of Chicago Press, 1988); The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1992); The Learning of Liberty: The Educational Ideas of the American Founders, co-authored with wife Lorraine (Univ. Press of Kansas, 1993); Justice Among Nations: On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace, co-authored with Peter J. Ahrensdorf (Univ. Press of Kansas, 1999); Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2003); Leo Strauss: An Introduction to His Thought and Intellectual Legacy (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2006); The Theological Basic of Liberal Modernity in Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws (U. of Chicago Press 2010); Aristotle's Teaching in the POLITICS (u. of chicago Press, 2013).

He has a DVD and audiotape lecture course entitled "The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution," marketed by The Teaching Company, The Great Courses.

A Festschrift in his honor: Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle, edited by Timothy Burns, was published by Lexington Books, 2010.

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I am somewhat acquainted with Leo Strauss. I have read Natural Rights and History and Persecution and the Art of Writing. I have read works by several Straussians including Paul Rahe, Michael Zuckert and Herbert Storing. I have found myself fascinated by the seeming demonization of Strauss by some of my fellow leftists as the portrait they paint of him is not the way I see him from his writings.
I chose Pangle as an introductory guide because I have read several of his books and I find him to be a superb scholar. I have no idea how this book compares with that of the Zuckerts, Tanquey, Smith, Meier, etc. I have no idea how fair the more critical books of Drury are. I have read none of the above and can offer no guidance as to the relative strengths
of the various attempts to interpret Strauss.
What I will do is attempt to tell you why you should read Pangle on Strauss. For Pangle offers a compelling vision of the Straussian project and the way it has grown since Strauss' death.
The first thing that struck me about Pangle's book was a methodological point. It has always struck me that (arguably) the most important methodological point ever expressed was Hamlet's admonition, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy". Strauss wants us to remain open to the possibility that not only are our answers wrong but that we may not even be asking the right, or most important, questions (Pangle, p.4). Even our hopes may be the wrong ones (p.29). In order to confront these possibilities, we must engage in a serious debate with our greatest thinkers.
Two things must be said about this. Strauss has a very large idea of the Western tradition. It encompasses Jewish and Islamic thought as well as Christian.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leo Strauss (1899-1973, U of Chicago) was an articulate examiner of America's Founding principles including their Enlightenment source; lover of Socratic thought; and among the first to expose Euro-American Postmodernism. Thomas Pangle (the author, UT Austin) was one of Strauss's students, as was Allan Bloom (U of Chicago), Henry V. Jaffa, and others beginning to be heard on various topics of the Founding, Supreme Court, de Tocqueville, community and tradition in our individualistic era. Some on the Left, infuriated by Strauss's analysis of what he called "the crisis of the West," have set out to associate Strauss with Neo-Conservatism, i.e. linking Strauss to abuse and corruption of the Bush/Cheney administration. The "smoking gun" seems to be that Paul Wolfowitz took a class from Strauss, despite Wolfowitz claims not to be a Straussian. Some, like Shadia Drury (University of Regina) link Strauss to "imperialist militarism and Christian fundamentalism," (Strauss was Jewish), claiming Straussian's make up a "cult." Thus reacting to what Pangle notes in the book as "the powerful undertow that can be quietly exercised by authentic philosophic reflection." Pangle writes, a "febrile flurry of conspiracy theories" littered the academic Left just in time to save us, as Strauss's "malignant and demonic influence reached out from the grave through mesmerized disciples." Like Tertullian's and Irenaeus's insults leading to a two millennia search for the Gnostic Gospels, such attacks have done a great service to reveal what Strauss is about to a wider audience. Naturally, Pangle rides this wave by opening his book with this topic. He writes, "Strauss exemplifies Nietzsche's observation that genuinely independent thinkers are never children of their times, they are subversive and rebellious.Read more ›
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