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"[This] is a very good book indeed. As the author of a rival commentary, I would press the case for serious students of Rousseau to have more than one discussion of the Social Contract on their shelves, but David Lay Williams's book sets an impressively high standard in this area. Anyone wishing to decode the mysteries of the general will and to pick apart its ambiguities needs to read it." -- Christopher Bertram, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"David Lay Williams's splendid new commentary on Rousseau's greatest contribution to political philosophy will rapidly become the "standard" work on this subject. In The Social Contract Rousseau formulates his most famous idea, "the general will", and Williams throws more light on this difficult notion than any scholar in the past half-century. This is a truly remarkable book."
Patrick Riley, author of The General Will Before Rousseau
"David Lay Williams's masterful Rousseau's 'Social Contract' clarifies a notoriously difficult work without explaining away the paradoxes that animate it. Students, teachers, and grizzled political science veterans will all benefit from Williams's eye for textual detail, his attention to Rousseau's context, and his knowledge of and fair-mindedness toward rival interpretations."
Jonathan Marks, Ursinus College
"Both immensely useful to students and a deeply illuminating resource for scholars, David Lay Williams offers a fine-grained interpretation of Rousseau's Social Contract that incisively connects it to his other writings, to his intellectual forebears and contemporaries, and to some of his most important successors. An impressive achievement that will benefit readers of Rousseau long into the future."
Sankar Muthu, University of Chicago
"David Lay Williams has written a very helpful introduction to Rousseau's Social Contract. Organized around a systematic, chapter-by-chapter walk-through of the text, Williams's book stands as a valuable guide to the central lessons and tensions of Rousseau's most notable and notorious political work. The clarity of its analysis, together with its sensitivity to Rousseau's intellectual and political contexts as well as today's scholarly debates, will render this book extremely useful to students and teachers alike."
Ryan Patrick Hanley, Marquette University
"[This] is a very good book indeed. As the author of a rival commentary, I would press the case for serious students of Rousseau to have more than one discussion of the Social Contract on their shelves, but David Lay Williams' book sets an impressively high standard in this area. Anyone wishing to decode the mysteries of the general will and to pick apart its ambiguities needs to read it."
Christopher Bertram, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Providing a thoughtful and clear guide for those who wish to study Rousseau's Social Contract, Williams' considerable knowledge and research not only about Rousseau, but also Western political thought make this work highly recommended."
Sharon K. Vaughan, Review of Metaphysics
This book is intended to be useful for students reading the Social Contract seriously for the first time. Its chapter-by-chapter analysis makes it uniquely student-friendly, especially where students are seeking to gain insight into particular passages and issues in the text. It will also be useful for scholars for similar reasons. Further, this is the only commentary on the Social Contract that offers an extended treatment of Rousseau's notorious general will, which stands as one of the most important concepts in the history of political thought.See all Editorial Reviews