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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magisterial political philosophy, February 23, 2006
By 
niccolo raven "raven" (Brooklyn, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep survey of political thought in the West, December 11, 2004
By 
Bo K. (California!!!) - See all my reviews
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is "political"?, April 10, 2008
By 
J. Grattan (Lawrenceville, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Expanded Edition) (Paperback)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, September 24, 2007
This review is from: Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Expanded Edition) (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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5.0 out of 5 stars A book to keep and reread!, May 26, 2014
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars very thought provoking book but a little long winded. ..., September 6, 2014
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This review is from: Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Expanded Edition) (Paperback)
very thought provoking book but a little long winded. not for readers who do not want to take the time to digest the concepts of the material.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Textbook for the History of Political Theory, January 11, 2012
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This review is from: Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Expanded Edition) (Paperback)
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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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visionary, September 18, 2001
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That there are people waiting to buy our used copies of this book is a testiment in itself: this is simply a classic of political thought, one which has enriched political theorizing and instructed many a pupil in our traditions over the years. However, Wolin is working on a new edition which will (according to him), "repair" an "error" in this text, whatever it is.
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