Visions of Politics: Volume 2 (Visions of Politics (Paperback)) Paperback – 16 Sep 2002
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'As a retrospective showcase of the work of a major scholar, this is impressive. Skinner's ability to combine political and philosophical insight with minute knowledge of several centuries of political literature is awe inspiring.' Robert Sugden, The Times Higher Education Supplement
' … this is a deeply impressive collection which displays Skinner's exceptional range.' The New York Review
The second of three volumes of essays by Quentin Skinner, one of the world's leading intellectual historians. This collection includes some of his most important work on the political thought of the Italian renaissance, each of which has been carefully revised for publication in this form.See all Product Description
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I picked up this book wanting to know more about the evolution of civic republicanism as it emerged from the city-states of Renaissance Italy and evolved subsequently, and especially how that tradition related to 17th century British 'liberal' thought. I learned just that. Moreover, the first two essays and the later essay on Milton are truly exemplary pieces of essay writing.
On different note, the book is exceptionally well documented. If you rarely read just one book on a given subject, the bibliography Skinner provides is a gem by itself - and well worth the price of the book solely as a reference. I'm sure those who have similar reading habits, or are simply interested in the history of civic republicanism, you will feel likewise. For those who, again, are restricted to English only, the bibliography reaffirms just how much otherwise exclusive history Skinner provides in his essays. Most - I would guess - of his sources are in Italian, Latin, French, etc. I don't see how anyone could finish this book without feeling well enough informed on a very extensive and intricate subject; or at least feeling well directed to further resources.
The only criticism that comes to mind - and it is hardly even that - is that the reading can be quite dense. So I would remind the casual reader that Skinner's book, though very well written, is an academic book nonetheless.
I highly recommend this book, as well as any other by Skinner.