Synopses & Reviews
The teachings of political theorist Leo Strauss (18991973) have recently received new attention, as political observers have become aware of the influence Strausss students have had in shaping conservative agendas of the Bush administrationincluding the war on Iraq. This provocative book examines Strausss ideas and the ways in which they have been appropriated, or misappropriated, by senior policymakers.
Anne Norton, a political theorist trained by some of Strausss most famous students, is well equipped to write on Strauss and Straussians. She tells three interwoven narratives: the story of Leo Strauss, a Jewish German-born émigré, who carried European philosophy into a new world; the story of the philosophic lineage that came from Leo Strauss; and the story of how America has been made a moral battleground by the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Leon Kass, Carnes Lord, and Irving KristolStraussian conservatives committed to an American imperialism they believe will usher in a new world order.
"Punchy, personal and passionate, this book aims to explain 'how an unlikely group of academics came to power in Washington and provided the philosophical justification for the war on Iraq.' The German-born Strauss (1899-1973) came to the United States as a Jewish refugee in 1938, ultimately teaching political philosophy at the University of Chicago. In sketching his life and the legacy of his ideas, Norton (95 Theses on Politics, Culture and Method) argues that Strauss's method of closely reading great books (à la late disciple Allan Bloom) does not presuppose the neoconservative politics with which the method has come to be associated. Strauss's readings of Islamic texts, in particular, she says, are contrary to the 'clash of civilizations' that has been constructed by Straussians William Kristol and Robert Kagan in their collection Present Dangers. Norton, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, was trained by Chicago Straussians herself, and she writes less as a turncoat than as a watchdog. She tracks Paul Wolfowitz's years at the University of Chicago and decries the culture of clubby, masculine power that she says Bloom created there. She also traces the series of Strauss-related political appointments that brought Wolfowitz to the Bush administration. Straussians, Norton claims, admire Lincoln for his willingness to act dictatorially on behalf of democracy; Strauss himself, she suggests, was far less Machiavellian. Some strands could be better woven together to explain how Straussians directly undergird the war, but this book should nonetheless stimulate debate." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A readable and well-informed expos of neo-conservatism. . . essential.'"-Michael Bell, Toronto Globe & Mail
(Michael Bell, Toronto Globe & Mail)
[alternative shortcopy for use after the 2004 election and post-Iraq War]
This enlightening book examines the thinking of political theorist Leo Strauss and how his ideas have been appropriated—or misappropriated—for various conservative agendas. Anne Norton tells the story of the Jewish German-born émigré, his philosophic heirs, and why they are advocates of an American imperialism.-->
"To understand the current Bush administration, Anne Norton's Leo Strauss, a readable and well-informed expose of neo-conservatism, is essential."—Michael Bell, Toronto Globe & Mail
This provocative book examines the teachings of political theorist Leo Strauss and the ways in which they have been appropriated, or misappropriated, by senior policymakers.
About the Author
Anne Norton is professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.