A History of Western Political Thought is an energetic and lucid account of the most important political thinkers and the enduring themes of the last two and a half millennia. Written with students of the history of political thought in mind, the book:
* traces the development of political thought from Ancient Greece to the late twentieth century
* focuses on individual thinkers and texts
* includes 40 biographies of key political thinkers
* offers original views of theorists and highlights those which may have been unjustly neglected
* develops the wider themes of political thought and the relations between thinkers over time.
This self-avowedly "old-fashioned...ac-count of great texts" begins with the Greeks and closes with modern reactions to liberalism; Hegel and Marx; "irrationalists" Pareto, Michels, LeBon, Freud, and the Fascists; and "anti-rationalists" Maurras and Oakeshotte. In a brief epilog, McClelland (politics, Univ. of Nottingham, England) comments on the collapse of dialog in our Nietzschean age. The author intentionally skimps on scholarly apparatus: there are few notes, bibliographies are brief, and citations from original texts are few and far between. And therein lies the rub. Although McClelland's insights are often good, at times even original, he fails to call in the thinkers' words to support his own arguments about their ideas and intent. Not until Chapter 11 (on Hobbes) does he even quote a thinker he discusses; half of the chapters are devoid of citation. The book reads like a set of lectures waiting for the illustrations that would flesh it out. Without these illustrations, the book is fatally flawed. Not recommended.David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus