On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present by Alan Ryan - review by Vernon Bogdanor

Vernon Bogdanor

Ruling Passions

On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 1,114pp £40 order from our bookshop
 

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.

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