Alan Ryan was Warden of New College, Oxford, and Professor of Political Thought. He is the author of On Politics, which will be published in paperback in the fall.
(March 2020)


Whose Nationalism?

Thornton Dial: Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together, 2003

Nationalism: A Short History

by Liah Greenfeld

Reclaiming Patriotism

by Amitai Etzioni
In 1989, at the end of the cold war, Francis Fukuyama wrote an essay on “the end of history,” which he expanded in 1992 into the best-selling book of that name.1 Even then, skeptics were noisily dubious that history had come to an end with the joint triumphs of …

An Anglo-Irish Cicero

Edmund Burke

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke

by Richard Bourke
Richard Bourke’s book, as its subtitle says, is an account of Edmund Burke’s political life, but he provides enough biography to allow the reader to see Burke in the round and appreciate the extraordinary range of talents that he possessed. Dr. Johnson famously observed, “You could not stand five minutes …

The Good Patriots

Abraham Lincoln, 1870; Edward Snowden, 2014

Moral Imagination

by David Bromwich
A sound instinct prompted David Bromwich to publish Moral Imagination at the same time as his biography of Edmund Burke, and not only because the idea of “a moral imagination” is derived from Burke.1 These essays were written between 1995 and 2012, and although Burke is not the central …

The Dangers of Patriotism

Edmund Burke; miniature portrait, English school, 1795

The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence

by David Bromwich
Edmund Burke, who died in 1797, remains a figure to reckon with more than two centuries later. He has been and still remains an inspiration to American conservatives, most strikingly to those lamenting the absence of an American cultural aristocracy early in the twentieth century, and to those at the …

In the Spirit of Maya Lin

Martha Nussbaum at the University of Chicago Law School, 2010

Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice

by Martha C. Nussbaum
The English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead described the history of European philosophy as “a series of footnotes to Plato.” In the same spirit, one might say that since the publication of A Theory of Justice in 1971, political philosophy in American universities has largely consisted of a series of footnotes …

A Big British Moment

King William IV; portrait by Sir Martin Archer Shee, 1833

Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832

by Antonia Fraser
It is more than forty years since Antonia Fraser revealed a formidable talent for writing serious and well-researched books on history for a wide audience. Her Mary Queen of Scots, published in 1969, won the James Tait Black for biography; since then she has written prize-winning and best-selling accounts of …

The Art of Being Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm and his third wife, Annis Freeman, shortly after their marriage, Mexico, 1953

The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet

by Lawrence J. Friedman, with assistance from Anke M. Schreiber
Some readers will recall being given a copy of Erich Fromm’s popular The Art of Loving in high school or college, usually remembering it with gratitude, but sometimes with a sense that its reliance on the ideas of Freud and Marx now makes it not only unfashionable, but old-fashioned. Still …

They Who Would Be Immortal!

A Tea Party rally in Clinton Township, Michigan, April 2010

The Story of America: Essays on Origins

by Jill Lepore

The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death

by Jill Lepore
Jill Lepore, a professor of American history at Harvard and a staff writer on The New Yorker, has been astonishingly productive. In 1999, not long out of graduate school, she won the Bancroft Prize for The Name of War, an account of the hideous King Philip’s War of 1675–1676 between …