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From climate change to nuclear war to the rise of demagogic populists, our world is shaped by doomsday expectations. In this path-breaking book, Alison McQueen shows why three of history's greatest political realists feared apocalyptic politics. Niccolò Machiavelli in the midst of Italy's vicious power struggles, Thomas Hobbes during England's bloody civil war, and Hans Morgenthau at the dawn of the thermonuclear age all saw the temptation to prophesy the end of days. Each engaged in subtle and surprising strategies to oppose apocalypticism, from using its own rhetoric to neutralize its worst effects to insisting on a clear-eyed, tragic acceptance of the human condition. Scholarly yet accessible, this book is at once an ambitious contribution to the history of political thought and a work that speaks to our times.Read more
- Highlights the possibilities and dangers of apocalyptic rhetoric
- Offers a new and nuanced account of the political realist tradition
- Gives original readings of Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Morgenthau
Reviews & endorsements
‘This is an excellent addition to the burgeoning literature on political realism. Straddling political theory and International Relations (IR) in a fresh and creative fashion, McQueen offers us a strikingly original portrait of realist responses to apocalypse. Moving seamlessly from Machiavelli to Hobbes to Morgenthau, from early modern debates about the nature of God to modern fears of nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change, she tells a fascinating story that raises profound questions about the dangers and the possibilities of political theology. Combining acute textual interpretation, felicitous historical contextualisation, and subtle normative analysis, Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times makes a major contribution to political theory and International Relations.' Duncan Bell, University of CambridgeSee more reviews
‘Richard Hofstadter famously coined the term ‘the paranoid style' to describe a certain histrionic strand within American politics. In Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times, McQueen audaciously outdoes Hofstadter by demonstrating the more widely pervasive ‘apocalyptic' style characteristic not only of American political theorizing and practice but also of modern political thought more generally. McQueen shows how and explains why the rhetoric of doomsday, visions of tribulation and redemption, and 'end times' ideologies not only persist but actually pervade the supposedly secular age. She meticulously and ingeniously traces the apocalyptic quality of the contexts in which political authors/actors such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Morgenthau wrote, and how this apocalypticism infiltrated their writings. The book is certain to make an enormous impact in the fields of political thought, intellectual history, and American studies, especially given the now fashionable ‘theological' turn in political theory and the dramatic surge in apocalyptic politics throughout the world.' John P. McCormick, University of Chicago
‘Alison McQueen uses the common, apocalyptic context of their thinking to give us a novel perspective on the unlikely trio of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Morgenthau. The perspective unifies and illuminates, revealing aspects of their writings, and connections between their concerns, that are unseen in other treatments.' Philip Pettit, Princeton University and Australian National University
‘The most important achievement of Alison McQueen's fascinating new book is that she launches an overdue conversation between and among different versions of ‘realism', past and present. Shedding fresh light on Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hans Morgenthau, and other ‘realists', McQueen ignores the usual disciplinary boundaries between and among competing realist brands. Hers is an indispensable contribution not only to a growing body of realist scholarship but to political science and philosophy.' William E. Scheuerman, Indiana University
'The heart of the book is four case studies that attempt to contextualize the apocalyptic thinking of the Judeo-Christian tradition and the efforts to contain it by Paul and Augustine, followed by a case study each on Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and Hans Morgenthau. The strength of the book is in the detailed, well-researched reconstruction of the apocalyptic historical context that animated the thought of each, including Augustine.' W. J. Coats, Choice
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- Date Published: December 2017
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107152397
- length: 244 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 159 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.48kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
2. Understanding the apocalypse
3. Machiavelli's Savonarolan moment
4. Hobbes 'At the Edge of Promises and Prophecies'
5. Morgenthau and the postwar apocalypse
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