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Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought Expanded Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691126272
ISBN-10: 0691126275
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Editorial Reviews

Review


Winner of the 2006 David and Elaine Spitz Prize, Conference for the Study of Political Thought


"[T]he original edition . . . provided the most impressive synoptic interpretation of politics by any recent Western thinker. Measured, assured, and resolutely independent, it was also wonderfully lacking in self-importance. . . . [T]hat first book remains just as illuminating and every bit as imposing; but it is now accompanied by a second and very different book. . . . Its message is chilling: . . . that politics itself, in its generous Western understanding, is well on the way to being eliminated from the experience of human beings. Each of these books is a remarkable achievement."--John Dunn, Times Higher Education Supplement

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2005 David and Elaine Spitz Prize, Conference for the Study of Political Thought
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 792 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Expanded edition (January 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691126275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691126272
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an exemplary work that engages the entire history of political thought in the Western tradition. Wolin has added four significant chapters to the original 1960 book and one addresses postmodernism looking at the Nietzschean background to our epoch. For any one doing serious scholarly work in political thoery, philosophy, critical theory, history this book is a necessary possession. For the rest, probably the best general work of Western political thought available.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is so rich and it is about so many things that it is difficult to praise in a brief blurb, but suffice it to say that it presents the development of political thinking since Plato to Roman political thought in the age of the Empire to the rise of the Catholic Church to the Reformation, to the reawakening of Classical theory in Machiavelli and onward to the development of modern ideas of the state, of order and security, representation of the polity, democracy, and authoritarianism. Each chapter is written like an individual essay, but with a depth unmatched my most other books on the subject. Perhaps Q. Skinner's development of western political thought is an approximation.

This book is not just a brief summary of the major figures and ideas; it is a discursis of THE tradition, THE language, THE development of theories AND praxis of human beings applying reason to organize themselves into groups for better protection against scarcity and death. Sexy, hmm?!

It would be interesting to read an equivalent book on the Eastern political tradition, as China is not covered here.

But otherwise, I cannot praise this book more highly. It is one to reread every year or so. When you have some free time that is. And after you reread Hamlet. Or maybe you're better off rereading Robinson Crusoe. Same question, different answer, anyhow.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of course, this is perhaps the foremost book on political theory of the last fifty years - basically required reading for anyone with claims to being a political philosopher or interpreter. It is an examination of the nature of political thinking and its connectedness and importance with regard to economics, religion, and the broader society from the time of Plato to the Bush II administration.

This expanded version of the book consists of seventeen somewhat independent chapters devoted to leading political thinkers, such as Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx, Nietzsche, and to such concepts as liberalism, community, democracy, and totalitarianism. Given the nature of the subjects the reading is slow going, though quite informative. There does seem to be a certain amount of needless repetition, even within chapters, and the overall affect is more one of fragmentation than of a unifying thread. For most, undoubtedly multiple readings would be required for full assimilation.

There will be no attempt here to offer any sort of critique of the substance of the book - a large project to be sure. There is an interesting chapter that dissects the political writings of John Rawls, the leading political theorist of the late twentieth century. The impact of Superpower and corporate dominance on the possibilities for democratic action in the current era is explored. It is clear that the notion of what is political is ever-changing and is not without its complexities.
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Format: Paperback
This eminently readable work can be picked up and put down as time permits--no small virtue in a busy time, and essential for a proper education in political ideas that still very much shape our world. Without making many explicit comparisons or contrasts, Wolin somehow manages to suggest numerous points of intersection between our political dilemmas today and those that beset people thousands of years ago. This is an erudite, witty, accessible book. It should be required reading for all Americans--especially for those of us who like to shoot our mouths off about liberals, conservatives, and other such oddities in the common bestiary. I wouldn't let my copy go for five times what I paid for it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I studied with Sheldon Wolin at Berkeley (before he went on to Princeton). This was a Golden Age at Berkeley for political theory: Norman Jacobson, Hannah Pitkin, Michael Rogin. A time when Political Science and Political Theory were at war.....something of a useless war we now know. Still, this is an extraordinary volume, a broad survey that has depth and insight. Wolin was a class act and a classic even in 1970. Brilliant and wonderful.....as were each of his collegues.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After having read only 10-percent -- Plato, Aristotle and the Romans on political theory and practice -- I find myself entranced by Sheldon Wolin's depth and breadth of understanding. Informative, insightful and inspiring.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great insights from Sheldon Wolin! The book advances political situations that will be faced (and solved?) in the next few decades.
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