The author reviews and discusses the political and economic views of Kautilya (also known as Kautalya, Kautiliya, and Chanakya), an Indian advisor and minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. The author contends Kautilya's "Arthashastra" shows that he was an early political realist.
The author compares the writings of Kautilya (lived about 340-280 B.C.) to the writings of Han Fei Tzu (live about 280-233 B.C.), Thucydides (lived about 460-400 B.C.), Niccolo Machiavelli (lived 1469-1527 A.D.), and Thomas Hobbes (lived 1588-1679 A.D.), and highlights similarities and differences he contends exist between Kautilya and the other writers. The author also cites and refers to modern writers who have discussed Kautilya, and points out where he agrees and disagrees with their analyses and conclusions about Kautilya's political and economic philosophy. Furthermore, the author refers to other books from ancient India and modern books on ancient Indian history in an effort to evaluate Kautilya's political and economic philosophy in the context of his times and culture. The author's contentions and arguments about the meaning and significance of Kautilya's views are thought-provoking and worthy of serious consideration.
The author cites and quotes many passages from Kautilya's book "Arthashastra" in connection with his analysis and discussion of Kautilya's political and economic philosophy. But the passages from "Arthashastra" cited and quoted by the author are generally brief. A reader interested in Kautilya's book "Arthashastra" itself, rather than a commentary about it, should look elsewhere.