Alan Ryan has been teaching and thinking about political theory at Oxford and Princeton for over forty years. Thirty-five years ago, a publisher suggested that he write a volume to replace G H Sabine’s standard history of political thought. This doorstop is the result.
Sabine’s book is superior hackwork, a textbook that covers the ground conscientiously but does little to inspire the reader. There is also a multivolume Cambridge History of Political Thought, a sound work of scholarship, laboriously based on the sources and relentlessly dull. On Politics holds the advantage on every count.