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Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Again, Professor Rahe has written an elegant book. Though he is trained as a historian, he has a keen eye for the political philosophic, so this reading of Montesquieu is not of an antiquarian interest.
The primary focus of this book is Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws. Professor Rahe though seems to know the entire corpus of Montesquieu. He is able to flesh out the hints and allusions that Montesquieu makes. He demonstrates how Montesquieu wrote carefully so that he would not suffer in the manner Voltaire did with his English Letters. He demonstrates how England was really a commercial republic in the disguise of a monarchy.
It is a worthwhile read in itself. It also serves as the beginning of Rahe's argument concerning the trajectory of the modern republic which leads in his opinion to soft despotism, the administrative state, as described by Tocqueville. For those interested in one of the foundations of American political philosophy in connection with the U.S. Constitution, this is as good a place to start as any. (This book however does not discuss how the founders read him.)
If you like Montesquieu, I also recommend Diana Schaub's close reading of the Persian Letters entitled Erotic Liberalism. It can also be purchased through Amazon.