Selected Book Reviews

Selected Book Reviews

Selected Book Reviews

Selected Book Reviews


Over the course of his varied and distinguished academic life, Eric Voegelin was often called upon by review editors of scholarly journals as well as by editors in the popular press to examine, summarize, and critically assess the work of other scholars, of statesmen, and of men of affairs. The contents of the books Voegelin reviewed mirror his changing interests over the years, including questions of method, points of legal philosophy and jurisprudence, and issues of race, war, and the aftermath of war. Of course, he was frequently called upon as well to review standard texts and new editions and monographs across the full range of political science.

This collection of Voegelin's reviews amounts to a reflection in miniature of many of the problems Voegelin tackled in his essays, articles, and books from the 1920s until the 1950s, when, owing to the press of other business, he began to decline requests to review the work of others. Some of his reviews are little more than clinical summaries; others are analytic essays. A few are extended engagements with a text or a set of problems. Occasionally, particularly among the later reviews originally written in English, one finds flashes of Voegelin's legendary with and a restrained impatience with the inadequate approaches or sheer incompetence of others. These book reviews will be of interest to all students and scholars of Eric Voegelin's work.


This volume contains an extensive selection of Voegelin's book reviews. None was written as part of a book, so a preliminary account of this collection may be in order.

The practice of one scholar reviewing the publication of another either in private correspondence or in the pages of a journal, a magazine, or a newspaper is an old one. Certainly by the nineteenth century the notice and appraisal of nonfiction was considered an element of informed public debate. At a minimum it has become a professional obligation and perhaps even a part of what by convention we call the progress of science. This collection of Voegelin's reviews is, first of all, prima facie evidence he was a responsible professional.

The reviews begin in 1923, a year after he received his doctorate, and continue for some thirty-two years. During the mid-1930shereviewed for newspapers as well as for scholarly publications, no doubt in part to supplement his exceedingly modest salary. After moving to the United States, in 1938, his correspondence indicates that he was often eager to review for the major political science journals, though the press of work often meant he was unable to deliver his review by the stipulated time. During the 1950s, as he worked on the lectures that appeared in print as The New Science of Politics and embarked on the even greater task of transforming the History of Political Ideas into Order and History, Voegelin was increasingly reluctant to undertake what was by now a secondary concern. His last reviews appeared in 1955, shortly before he moved to the University of Munich to establish the Political Science Institute.

The distinction between a notice, a review, a review essay, and an article is not philologically self-evident. Most of what is included . . .

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