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Thoughts on Machiavelli [Paperback]

by Leo Strauss
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 15, 1995 0226777022 978-0226777023
Leo Strauss (1899-1973) joined the University of Chicago as professor of political philosophy in 1949 and was later named Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in political science. His many books include Liberalism, Ancient and Modern, and The City and Man, both available from the University of Chicago Press.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) joined the University of Chicago as professor of political philosophy in 1949 and was later named Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in political science. His many books include Liberalism, Ancient and Modern, and The City and Man, both available from the University of Chicago Press.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (October 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226777022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226777023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towering achievement November 22, 1999
Format:Paperback
One of the best and most important books of the 20th Century. I know that sounds ridiculous (shouldn't it be famous then?) but it's true. Strauss traces the beginnings of modernity to a concious design of Machiavelli's to overthrow all previous authority in favor of "new modes and orders." In other words, according to Strauss, the world we live in is not only not the result of imperonsal, inevitable "progress," it was made possible by one man who knew exactly what he was doing.
Through a detailed analysis of Machiavelli's books, Strauss shows how every important feature of modern thought is either directly traceable to Machiavelli, or else depends on a foundation he built. More importantly, Strauss outlines the differences between Machiavellism and what Machiavelli sought to replace--thereby making possible a (qualified) return to the superior understanding of pre-Machiavellian philosophy.
Such a return becomes more necessary every day, as the contradictions and prodigious errors of modern thought continue to erode civilization. Strauss alone has shown that return is possible--and this book is an indespenible guide for how to get there.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Look at an Old Philosopher March 10, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an endlessly frustrating and illuminating book written by Leo Strauss. Even if you aren't able to fathom esoteric writing, you will be continuously surprised by Strauss's clarity of thought about Machiavelli in both the larger context of the entire book, and in the minutae of the details. It has a way of forcing one to puzzle over things in a new way, and is free of the rhetoric of ideologues and demagogues. It makes the reader feel like a young student in the presence of a great, beneficent teacher.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Persecution and the Art of Machiavelli January 19, 2001
Format:Paperback
Yes, Leo Strauss has the guts to say that Machiavelli is evil, and through a scintillating display of close reading, Strauss silently points, and nods, in the direction of the solution to why Machiavelli is evil. The other reviewers accurately convey the sense of mystery and sophistication about this text, but by reading Strauss's book "Persecution and the Art of Writing", the reader of "Thoughts on Machiavelli" may be able to arrive at the solution to the mystery.
A brilliant book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The chewy center of the Straussian project August 2, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The centrality of Thoughts on Machiavelli within Strauss' work cannot be overemphasized. During his lifetime (by my count), Leo Strauss published some 14 or 15 books (depending on whether you count The History of Political Philosophy). Thoughts on Machiavelli was published in 1958. It had been preceeded by Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952) and Natural Right and History (1953) and was followed by What is Political Philosophy (1959) and The City and Man (1964). This five books form the central period of Strauss' work wherein he came to his mature philosophical outlook. The four books prior to PAW can be seen as the ground work for his mature work. The books that follow the central five can be seen as Strauss' return to classical political philosophy to try to reveal the grounding experiences that led to the development of classical political philosophy and what he saw as its version of natural right.
Thoughts on Machiavelli (hereafter ToM) is central in another sense. Strauss saw the history of philosophy as the struggle between the Ancients and the Moderns. This was the historical theme that he used to frame his main theme which was the fundamental alternative of Reason versus Revelation. Strauss saw the conflict between reason and revelation as playing out differently in classical political philosophy and in modern political philosophy. Machiavelli (hereafter, M.) is THE turning point.
ToM is divided into four chapters. The first delves into the relationship between Machiavelli's Prince and his Discourses. The second chapter explores what M.is trying to do in the Prince and the third chapter explores M.'s intention in The Discourses on Livy.
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