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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets my vote
Short, readable, crystal clear. Politics books are often a hard climb or at least a tedious trudge. This is a smooth glide by comparison.
Miller states at the start that he wants to avoid jargon and academic mumbo-jumbo and he does just that, taking us on a concise but enjoyable tour of political philosophy. He begins at first principles and gradually builds his...
Published on 3 Dec 2007 by Petrolhead

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying
This was a mildly interesting introduction to an interesting subject. I felt it rambled a little, and was disappointed that it did not introduce any key theorists and missed out some key concepts (sovereignty, for example). The book only really succeeds in raising some key questions, but does not introduce one to the multifarious attempts to answer these questions...
Published on 28 Feb 2008 by A. Person


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets my vote, 3 Dec 2007
By 
Petrolhead (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Short, readable, crystal clear. Politics books are often a hard climb or at least a tedious trudge. This is a smooth glide by comparison.
Miller states at the start that he wants to avoid jargon and academic mumbo-jumbo and he does just that, taking us on a concise but enjoyable tour of political philosophy. He begins at first principles and gradually builds his arguments, with deftly chosen examples adding depth and colour to the text. The logical progression means that the focus is firmly on democracy (since that is the political system that makes most sense to most people nowadays). Although he presents (and knocks down) arguments for alternative systems, don't expect great forays into the pros and cons of ideologies like Communism or Fascism. Among the concepts he tackles are justice, social justice, freedom, multiculturalism, feminism and globalisation.
The thoughts of political philosophers such as Plato, Rousseau, Locke, Mill and Rawls are woven beautifully into the flow, compact nuggets that reinforce rather than halt the narrative. Anyone who has tried to trawl through Rawls in the original will whisper a quiet thankyou when they arrive at the digested wisdom of Miller's version.
Miller makes a promise at the outset and he sticks to it: to be scrupulously fair and present all sides of each argument, even if the reader doesn't share his own leanings (which I sensed were slightly leftward).
In sum, it would be hard to do better than this for a well-reasoned introduction to (or refresher course in) political philosophy.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 28 Feb 2008
This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This was a mildly interesting introduction to an interesting subject. I felt it rambled a little, and was disappointed that it did not introduce any key theorists and missed out some key concepts (sovereignty, for example). The book only really succeeds in raising some key questions, but does not introduce one to the multifarious attempts to answer these questions. Furthermore, Miller's own opinions (given heavy weighting in the final chapters) are not particularly interesting or radical, and given the nature of the medium (a 'very short introduction') would be better presented elsewhere.

If you want a very short introduction to the subject of political philosophy, a good alternative is the 'Politics: A Very Short Introduction', which I have found to be a much better read and much more thorough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and thoughtful overview, 7 Sep 2012
By 
J. Eade "healthy skeptic" (Brighton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Not being exactly new to the ideas of political philosophy I found certain aspects of this book somewhat basic particularly regarding the ethical considerations of good governance and justice. However I have now had a lot of gaps filled and my ignorance enlightened in other areas.

Arguments for and against different points of view from across the whole political spectrum were presented and discussed without presuming infallible wisdom on the part of the author but yet still with a candid attitude and no attempt to mask his own views. Indeed the book ends with a rough outline of the author's ideas of how we might improve society as it currently stands.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to all those new to the subject but also to anyone with a healthy critical outlook even if they feel they have a good idea of how society should be run already as you might find some ideas you had not given fair consideration to before.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfectly pocket-sized political philosophy, 17 July 2007
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This little book is a quick yet thoughtful work-through of some major areas of political philosophy. Whats great is that you can finish it in a single evening and know loads more than before. David Miller is a very good writer and his narrative style sweeps the reader along as he investigates political issues. Miller has refrained from cluttering his text with unnesscary jargon. Throughly enjoyable and refreshingly different to other introductions, this is simply a very good book. I loved the way in which Miller used a 14th century painting ('Allergory of Good and Bad Government' by Lorenzetti) to act as a discussion point for opening up political philosophy becuase it really added flavour to proceedings.

It should be warned, however, that this book is far from comprehensive even in an 'introduction' sense of the word. Instead of being written with a quick synopsis of all the major discussion, Miller instead opts for a continuous narrative that works through *some* of the major topics of the discipline. Interestingly, Miller's book is not so much an illustration of the debates as it is an argument for his personal conclusions through illustrating these debates. This is not neccessarily a bad thing, though, as it still serves to introudce the reader to the fundamentals and still allows the reader to come to their own opinons. In many ways, it is actually quite nice to see conclusions made for once rather than questions left unanswered as coming to conclusions is also a part of the philosophical discipline.

I have given this book five stars becuase its great, but it should be realised that other, more comprehensive introductions could prove better due to more depth. However, it undoubtedly introduces political philosophy in an excellent manner, especially considering its length (130 or so very small pages). It is, afterall, meant to be a very short introduction and it scores five stars when taken as such.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Introduction, 23 Aug 2010
This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I think this book is one of the best VSI'S that I have read.
It speaks to you directly and there is none of the intellectual pseudo arguments that some writers expect you to perform to understand to subject. I wanted the book to last longer, David uses great arguments to open up your mind eg the fox hunting illustration. This helps you grasp the concepts he puts forward. I am sure it is not perfect but then again I am no expert on Political Philosophy. So I will leave it for others to critize this book if they must.
It has changed the way I look at politics and the process of state.
For that I thank the writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction.in plain English, 6 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
An excellent introduction with a refreshing absence of jargon and of the attempt to impress with the writers erudition.Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 13 Jan 2013
By 
Edward M. Sedgwick (Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is a good short introduction. Do not expect depth, its virtue is its brevity. The computer is asking for four more words, that is eleven.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good summary, 24 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Pocket sized summary of lots of political theories. I bought it for a philosophy evening class to get me up to speed and I found it very helpful. Nicely written, zips along, not heavy going at all, but sufficient detail for a beginner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 18 Jun 2012
This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is a Very Short Introduction, and so I suppose it can be forgiven for being somewhat more superficial than a similar book by Jonathan Wolff which is styled an `Introduction'

Nevetheless, Miller makes some observations which I think are interesting to a general reader such as myself.

On democracy, he develops certain themes which can be overlooked. Firstly, the importance of protecting minorities from majorities. Secondly, the case for more participatory forms of democracy as populations become more educated and more electronically accessible.

By placing current debates about the rights of women and of cultural minorities into a political philosophical context, he helps one to understand that there are no right answers to some of these questions. Instead, the issues live somewhere on various equilibria between, say, justice and liberty, or between individual and general/social justice.

While praising the nation-state as an enduringly stable vehicle for the expression of political philosophy, he reminds of some of its imperfections: xenophobia; the tendency to mythologise the past, especially in its military aspects.

Wolff's book is no harder to read, and overall I preferred it; I particularly enjoyed his ability to lure one into a plausible argument, and then surprise you by revealing its counter-argument. So unless you are VSI collector, you could always skip this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 15 Sep 2011
By 
S. MOHAMADI (London,SW) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Whenever I wish to learn more about a subject matter and form a coherent informed view I would usually start with Oxford's very introduction series as they are simply the best and sure way of getting to know what you are after. I wasn't disappointed in this instance too as David Miller has skilfully done a great job and prepared the ground for dipping deeper for an interested reader. Very informative, interesting and delightful.
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