Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays. While you're there, curl up with one of these fine books...
Director of Programs, the Claremont Institute
- The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style, by Nicholas Antongiavanni
Few books may be called original. The Suit is a rare exception. Rarer still, because it has the virtue of being read on many levels, providing bona fide instruction for men's dress, a careful commentary on Machiavelli by one who knows him well, and, finally, managing to be extraordinarily funny. This little work allows the reader to come to know about men's dress in a short time what the pseudonymous author has come to acquire only with great effort and experience with sartorial affairs. The Suit is not merely about suits in the ordinary sense, but about types of men—the high and the low, the dandy and the vulgar--praising and mocking using such marvelous examples as Jay Leno, Tucker Carlson, Pierce Brosnan, and David Hyde Pierce. The 26 chapters include "Why the Double-Breasted Suits Which Humphrey Bogart Wore Did Not Look Ridiculous on Humphrey Bogart's Frame," and "How Much Fashion Can Do in Sartorial Affairs and in What Mode It May Be Opposed." Machiavelli's enterprise was to unite Italy and free it from barbarians; Antongiovanni's enterprise strikes a blow against casual Friday and men's inhibitions to be well-attired—an "Exhortation to Seize Dress and to Free It from the Vulgarians." Students of political philosophy will find this a pleasant undertaking for the holiday—but one which you will enjoy reading aloud to your family. And besides, in such matters graduate students are, customarily, in need of all the help we can get.
- The Peloponnesian War, by Donald Kagan
Thucydides recounts how the Peloponnesian War came about as the perhaps inevitable and perhaps unforeseable consequence of the disproportionate balance of power following the Persian War. The Athenian empire began in the military necessity to defeat the Persian invaders, but later became the "truest cause" of the war with Sparta. Athens' choice about with whom to side in the regional conflict between the Epidamneans and the Corcyreans turned upon the question of whether or not war with Sparta was ultimately inevitable. This work by Kagan reduces to a highly readable scope his more formidable four-volume series, summarizing Thucydides' tale as readable history. Thomas Hobbes said of Thucydides that the "narrative subtley instructeth the reader." Kagan's instruction is subtle and enjoyable.
- Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, by George Crile
Like the Peloponnesian War, the current war on terrorism did not spring from nowhere, but instead has roots in the Cold War (just as the Cold War had its roots in World War II). George Crile recounts the story behind the story of aid funded and organized by the CIA for the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, in this immensely enjoyable novel which also happens to be a true story. Crile recounts the unlikely story of how Charlie Wilson, a larger-than-life womanizing Democratic congressman from South Texas, teamed up an equally colorful CIA operative Gust Avrokatos and even the Israelis to supply the hundreds of millions in funding and weapons to the mujahadeen fighting their Soviet occupiers. Crile revels in displaying the thin line between barbarism and civilization, of the contrast between high-tech weaponry and the primitive methods of the Afghanis. An abiding theme is that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." The Afghani hatred for the Communists is indeed palpable, as is the semi-savage pleasure in making Russia bleed in their equivalent of Vietnam. But because enemies of enemies are only friends of convenience, the strategic vacation in which we indulged for a decade or so after the Cold War has proven a major inconvenience in the new century. And just as Persia was none too displeased at the Athenian-Spartan conflict, so too America's enemies smile at our present distress.
- The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9-11, by Lawrence Wright
Which brings us to the more recent tale, meticulously told by Lawrence Wright. The U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia (as with Pakistan) began during the Cold War. Military equipment pre-positioned there in the 1980s made possible the speed of Desert Storm, but American troops in the land of Mecca and Medina also became a rallying point for radicals like Sayyid Qutb, and the popularization soon spread with oil funding. Wright traces the development of the "too bizarre, too primitive and exotic" al-Qaeda organization, from Qutb to al-Zawahiri to Bin Laden, and the plans of the hijackers leading to 9/11. When, despite ourselves, this conflict is finally behind us, what will be the conflict two decades from now? Who will be our future enemies? What calculations must we make now on that basis?
* * *
John B. Kienker
Managing Editor, Claremont Review of Books
- America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, by Mark Steyn
This book is the most fun I've had being depressed. With his characteristic wit, Steyn lays out his case that Europe is committing suicide with a lethal dose of low birth rates, an unsustainable welfare state, and a high influx of unassimilated immigrants with a fondness for sharia law. In its own way, there's something almost refreshing in the way Steyn identifies Muslims as the threat (rather than Islamicists or Islamo-fascists or some other P.C. buzzword). They're not only hostile to their host countries, he says, but masters at manipulating Europe's multicultural sensibilities. Determination and sheer numbers mean that Muslims won't even have to take over by force so much as by default, as the native European population dwindles, absorbed in their own state-sponsored infantilism. Will America go down the same path? Steyn has hope for our higher birth rates (especially in the Red states) and President Bush's gospel of democratization (believing Islam's adherents too many to defeat). But as yet, the U.S. has no taste for cultural imperialism or for total war, and little real interest in slowing the growth of our own administrative state. Our work is cut out for us.
- The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, by Dinesh D'Souza
This one doesn't come out until January, but I got my hands on an advance copy and couldn't put it down. Between the scorching subtitle (!) and an honest-to-God enemies list at the back of the book (!!), there's an interesting argument developed in these pages that rethinks a lot of conventional wisdom. For D'Souza, the Left caused 9/11 because Muslims at once hate and feel threatened by the coarse, decadent America the Left promotes. Traditional Muslims are being pushed into the radical camp because they don't see that there are conservative Americans who also take offense at the Left's agenda. Unfortunately, conservatives have been foolishly trying to rally all Americans, Left and Right, into a united front against a common enemy. But liberals see the "fundamentalism" of President Bush as a more immediate threat to their political plans and share with al-Qaeda the same short-term goal: the utter defeat of Bush at home and the Bush Doctrine abroad. D'Souza believes conservatives need to realize the connection between the domestic culture war and the international war on terrorism. The Right needs to unite with its natural allies, the traditional Muslims, to defeat the radicals abroad by first defeating the Left at home. A lot of his points have merit to them, but I think D'Souza unhelpfully obscures the differences between conservative Americans who object to adulterers having a steamy affair on daytime TV by writing a letter to the sponsors and traditional Muslims who object to an engaged couple holding hands in public by stoning them to death. I suspect that too many Muslims still view conservative Americans as depraved infidels.
- Ernest L. Fortin: Collected Essays, edited by J. Brian Benestad
- Vol. 1: The Birth of Philosophic Christianity: Studies in Early Christian and Medieval Thought
- Vol. 2: Classical Christianity and the Political Order: Reflections on the Theologico-Political Problem
- Vol. 3: Human Rights, Virtue and the Common Good: Untimely Meditations on Religion and Politics
The late Fr. Fortin's unique perspective as a Straussian priest yields interesting gems of insight that can be sifted through and enjoyed in these three collected volumes. I was especially drawn to his argument that Christianity is unique among the three great monotheistic religions because it is essentially a faith, not a law, and that this difference complicates its relationship both to political philosophy and to politics in general. This understanding brings an interesting nuance to the Straussian divide between ancients and moderns in which early and medieval Christians like Augustine and Aquinas (Fortin's essays on each are superb) are lumped together with Plato and Aristotle. Other subjects explored include religion and civil society; Dante's Divine Comedy; the irreconcilability of natural right, natural law, and natural rights; modernity's radical break; and American bishops' growing emphasis on comfortable self-preservation rather than Christian duties.
- Vol. 1: The Birth of Philosophic Christianity: Studies in Early Christian and Medieval Thought
- Architecture of Democracy: American Architecture and the Legacy of the Revolution, by Allan Greenberg
The photographs collected here are sure to delight, but this is more than a handsome coffee-table book put together by a master architect. It is also an elegant, insightful meditation on the way in which our very buildings have reflected America's changing political ideas throughout our history. For instance, Greenberg shows how classical motifs were adapted to democratic purposes in the founding era, and brilliantly contrasts the home of a president (Mount Vernon) with that of a king (Versailles). Distinctly American architecture, he shows, has had as its basic building block the simple "house." From the courthouse to the schoolhouse, from a family house to the White House, Greenberg shows how balance, order, symmetry, and ornament were once beautifully combined on a scale fit for a government by the people. And how contemporary structures reveal very different political assumptions.
- Lincoln's Defense of Politics: The Public Man and His Opponents in the Crisis over Slavery, by Thomas E. Schneider
Scholars have been too quick at times to find fault with the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln. Liberals accuse Lincoln of doing too little, too late—if he wasn't an outright racist, he was too slow, too calculating, falling regrettably short of the abolitionists' fiery zeal. Some libertarians and conservatives romanticize the South, and set up Lincoln as a bloodthirsty tyrant in the so-called "War Between the States." This book looks at three representative intellectual forebears for each side of this divide—Henry David Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Stephens, John C. Calhoun, and George Fitzhugh—and contrasts their recommendations with Lincoln's, finding them deficient both from a moral and a constitutional standpoint.
* * *
Brian T. Kennedy
President, the Claremont Institute
I took four books with me on the Forbes Cruise for Investors where I spoke on "National Security in the 21st Century." (The cruise, by the way, was great fun. Not only did Charles Kesler and I have a chance to meet some very fine folks but we also had a chance to spend some time with Steve Forbes and Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, both of whom are really fine gentlemen.)
First was Steven Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign, which offers a brilliant fictionalized account of Alexander the Great's battle in Afghanistan. Pressfield is a first-rate writer who has also produced the equally entertaining novels Gates of Fire and The Virtues of War. Think Victor Davis Hanson meets Mark Helprin. (Which reminds me that Hanson has his own novel out sometime soon.) No one will be disappointed by The Afghan Campaign. Pressfield's depiction of the brutality of war, the savagery of the ancient Afghan people, and the nobility of the foot soldier will bring tears to your eyes.
Second was a reread of Angelo Codevilla's No Victory, No Peace. With Robert Gates taking the reigns at the Pentagon it is worth reminding ourselves what in fact victory in the war on terrorism is all about. Gates has said that we are losing but couldn't define what victory would look like. At the unveiling of the report of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker announced that we shouldn't even think in terms of victory but in terms of success. Call it what you will, Codevilla has offered a straightforward analysis since the attack on September 11 of how America must secure the peace and tranquility of this country and where we have gone wrong. It is a must read for American policymakers.
Third was the new book by Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation. Kagan is a student of American foreign policy and here he gives us a very persuasive account of American strategy and American statesmanship that should encourage a very worthwhile discussion in our Claremont Review of Books.
Fourth was the new book by Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Well, having read the book I can announce that I still feel fine. The world hates America and the West. With writers like Mark Steyn and the fellows of the Claremont Institute we will soldier on in good cheer.
And although I did not take it on the trip with me (the cruise was only a week), the perfect Christmas gift for all Americans is our Washington Fellow William J. Bennett's new book, America: the Last Best Hope.
* * *
Salvatori Visiting Fellow in the American Founding, Claremont McKenna College
Claremont Institute Adjunct Fellow
Harvey Mansfield's Manliness (well reviewed by Diana Schaub in the CRB), is the most interesting new book I have read in the past year. Mansfield begins with a peculiarly modern problem: modern science is itself manly, and yet it renders manliness less necessary. Modern science is an effort to conquer nature, to subdue it to human use. The conquest has its virtues, it has saved us from the ravages of countless diseases and, at the same time, has made it possible for us to treat women more equitably. And yet, the more regular and predictable science makes our lives, the less necessary manliness is. The result is the rise of womanly men, and, at the same time, manly women. As the persistence of war as a part of human life indicates, the manly virtues are always necessary in politics in particular, and in life in general. How can our society produce the men who can help us through times of crisis, and yet not upset the apple cart?
Other than that, I recommend two classics. The first is Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, the wise and shrewd observations of a leading light of the political machine that ran New York from the second half of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. The book is no period piece. On the contrary, it is chock-full of insight into politics that transcend time and place. I had a good time teaching the book to my introduction to American government class. Plunkitt is a pleasure to read. It is also conveniently available on the web.
Finally, I recommend Henry Adams's History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Adams's history is the best work of history written by an American. It is not mere storytelling, though there is plenty of that, and it is a pleasure to read. Rightly understood, the work is a comprehensive account of the American regime come to life in the early history of the republic.
* * *
Bruce C. Sanborn
President, Upland & Marsh
Chairman, Claremont Institute Board of Directors
Fellow Guardians of our Mutual Happiness (as Publius called us in Federalist 14): have you considered re-reading Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, this time using Joe Sachs' translation? Sachs is a St. John's College tutor and former student of Seth Benardete. I don't know Greek but after reading Sachs, I'd be willing to play a Greek-speaking ethicist on TV. Sachs' introduction, translation, footnotes, and glossary are mighty aids to understanding Aristotle.
I apologize for getting personal—but this year I've been through hell, largely helped by Jean and Robert Hollander's notes to Dante's Inferno. If the Hollanders had not shown up with their notes and able translation, I'd probably still be stuck in Canto One's dark wood. From hell, there's no place to go but up; so, I've bought the Hollanders' Purgatorio, and am headed for that mountain. Meanwhile, the Hollanders are back in Princeton translating and annotating Paradiso—in time for Christmas 2007.
007: if you are thinking of (or already are) taking Aikido, "the gentleman's fighting art," check out Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, by Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti. I'm new to the sphere but it's the best book I've found for illustrations and explanations of Aikido's "basic techniques of neutralization." Of course, guardians come in male and female forms, and there are as many women as men in my Aikido class; moreover, our sensei is a slender woman of 5' 6", whom I've seen disorient the attack of a 6' 5" man and in a twinkling render him, shaken, stirred but unharmed to the mat.
This being the Christmas season, I am going to use the gift of glossary. "Blessed (makarios)," according to Joe Sachs in the Ethics, means, "happy to the maximum extent, for which all external goods of fortune, such as health, riches, and a flourishing family, are necessary but not sufficient conditions (1099a29- b8)."
Thank God for the goods of fortune, necessary and sufficient, and may God give us the wisdom to use them ethically, for America and our happiness. Finally, have a makarios Christmas!
* * *
Vice President of Public Policy, Pacific Research Institute
2006 Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow
- Eleni, by Nicholas Gage
One of Ronald Reagan's favorite books, and a true story. Former New York Times foreign correspondent Nicholas Gage recounts the story of how his mother saved her children from Communist guerrillas in Greece—and paid for her maternal love with her life. Thanks to his mother's sacrifice, Gage grew up in America—and he decides to return to Greece to find and kill the man who murdered his mother. This book is a powerful reminder of the price of freedom, and the enduring power of love.
- A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924, by Orlando Figes
This is, without question, the single best account of the Russian Revolution available in English. Figes accomplishes something extraordinary here, weaving together social history with the great events and men of the era. The Russian Revolution is a cautionary tale of what happens when social structures break down: as Burke would note, even if they are imperfect and unjust, their annihilation is a still greater evil. Figes does not spare the reader the grim details of the original horrors of Communism, completing Solzhenitsyn's work of demonstrating the Soviet experiment as an evil from the start.
- The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig
Stefan Zweig was a Jewish-Austrian intellectual and a creature of the Belle Epoch, with a distinguished literary output to his credit. As he and his wife Lotte grew older, their world, and the world of Europe, clouded over with war and repression. Finally, in the gray dawn of the Third Reich, they fled abroad. Zweig composed The World of Yesterday, a profoundly poignant reminiscence of the Habsburg Europe of courts, traditions, culture and peace that he once knew. It is a portrait of a dead man, painted so that succeeding generations might know what once was. Upon its completion, and despairing of the bleak future, Stefan Zweig and his wife committed suicide. This beautiful book is a monument to a man who felt too keenly and hoped too little, but we cannot blame him for it.
- A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962, by Alistair Horne
Whether you regard the disappearance of AlgÃ©rie franÃ§aise as a tragedy, as I do, or as the inevitable triumph of the oppressed, as is the conventional wisdom, British author Alistair Horne's classic work on Algeria's war of independence is a valuable read. As much as any book on Vietnam, it is the archetypical account of how a superior Western power may—and perhaps will—choose to lose to an inferior non-Western power. Horne lays forth with clarity the military success of the French effort, and the concurrent sapping of the political will of the French ruling classes. In the end, Charles de Gaulle abandoned AlgÃ©rie franÃ§aise so he could focus his nation on other priorities. It's a tragedy that Horne depicts better than anyone. As we seek to pacify another Muslim nation, it deserves a close read.
* * *
Vice President, the Claremont Institute
Two new collections of Alice Munro short stories were published in 2006. The View From Castle Rock is a collection of the stories she has written in the two years since her previous collection, Runaway, was published. Carried Away, by Everyman's Library, ranges over recent decades rather than the years just past. It is a collection of 17 stories selected by Munro from her long career. The Atlantic Monthly greeted the latter book with the claim that "Alice Munro is the living writer most likely to be read in a hundred years."
If you're not familiar with Munro's stories, the fact that you aren't makes you a part of the biggest critical debate over Munro: Why isn't she better known? Some point to the fact that she is, as the Atlantic says, a "most unexotic Canadian." More plausibly, apart from one novel very early in her career, the 75-year-old Ms. Munro has concentrated exclusively on short stories. Writers who make a living from short stories are as rare today as trained singers who make a living as recitalists. The audience for the short story is a fraction of what it was in the long era when it was a lucrative business for Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
That's not to say that there aren't lots of short stories being written and published. But most of them are written by students and faculty members in the ubiquitous graduate programs in creative writing. They appear in obscure journals that are read, for the most part, by those same students and faculty members. The trend points to short fiction descending to the same farcical condition as modern poetry, where the only people who read it are the people who write it.
All sorts of changes in people's reading habits and their leisure habits are implicated in this development. Some of the blame, however, must be ascribed to the creative writing programs themselves. More often than not, the tenured faculty members are writers' writers rather than readers' writers. They write, and instruct their students to write, so that other writing program denizens will be impressed, or even intimidated, not so that readers who love good literature will be satisfied or moved. If you must scrape by on less than one percent of John Grisham's income you can at least feel superior to him, and make your readers feel superior to his readers, by indulging every instinct toward preciousness and obscurity to advertise your high-mindedness.
Not one of these deadly habits can be found in Alice Munro's stories. She respects her readers and her characters, and is so skillful and modest in bringing them together that she, as an author, usually disappears in the spell she casts. If, at the theater, you find yourself thinking you're watching a great actor—you aren't. The highest level of achievement there is to make you forget you're watching an actor at all, and believe that you are in the same room with Falstaff or Willy Loman.
In the same way, Munro makes you forget you're reading a story that someone sat down and wrote. Her writing never calls attention to itself but can be impossibly beautiful, moving and discerning at the same time. If you don't know her work, and have any room on your New Year's resolution list for acquainting yourself with a marvelous writer, make room on your bookshelf for these two new collections.
* * *
- Paradise Lost, by John Milton
I am grateful to the modern invention of recorded books (I use my local library as well as an iPod and audible.com) for many hours of driving pleasure, but especially for my "discovery" of Milton, to whom I would otherwise perhaps have never returned. What may be the key to the poem, and certainly what made it most interesting to me, is God's turn from a mysterious, willful governance of the universe to a new kind of governance through a natural order. When God arranges for our human world to be created by the Son (Book 7), he says that the new world will exist "between appointed bounds," to confine the "boundless deep" that antedates our world. This difference corresponds to God's statement in the same context that his own "uncircumscrib'd" self, beyond freedom and necessity, will "retire." It seems that Milton's God governs the universe at first in the mode of what Leo Strauss called "political theology," i.e., as an arbitrary, ultimately unintelligible being who will be whatever he will be, transcending necessity. When God turns the government over to the Son, it means that God's rule henceforth will be intelligible and in accord with necessity, just as God's face, shrouded in cloud, becomes visible in the Son's "conspicuous count'nance." God's governance becomes the governance of the God of "political philosophy." This is why God's appointment of the Son as "universal king" triggers the revolt of Satan. That revolt becomes intelligible as the revolt of Will and Willfulness against Reason and Necessity. Satan would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, because he values having his own way more highly than being happy. He values stubborn thumos more highly than reasonable eros or pursuing the good ("Evil be thou my Good," he says). The Son, as the rational principle of God's governance, creates the human world as a world, in which everything works according to intelligible causes and effects. Divine willfulness is excluded. Milton seems to present the Biblical account of creation and the Fall as a grand experiment conducted by God to determine whether, within a world of nature, Adam and Eve, as rational creatures, could govern themselves successfully by reason alone. They cannot. The Fall is therefore a fall away from reason into passion and imagination, just as it is in Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas. Adam is given religion only after the fall, in the final two books of Paradise Lost. Stories from the Bible are presented to Adam there as a series of visions that take the place of the failure of Adam and Eve to live by rational insight. What is implied is that the return to Eden would be the return to living by reason alone, i.e., living the philosophic life. If that return is possible at all in the fallen world, it would be only for the few who can find their way by reason and not lose themselves in self-deceptions and the deceptions of others.
- Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, by Leo Strauss
Published posthumously, this book undertakes to revise some of the standard Straussian orthodoxies that Strauss himself created for strategic reasons. Strauss seems to have decided, late in his life, to pull aside the veil behind which he had concealed, at least from many of his readers, his own understanding of certain modern philosophers. Straussians today tend to view the early modern philosophers as not quite up to the standard of the classical or the Jewish and Islamic medieval philosophers, or else as grossly inferior to that standard. Studies is a welcome antidote to this misunderstanding. I would point especially to chapter 12, on Machiavelli. In this chapter, the founder of modern political philosophy is not presented in terms of the familiar Straussian opposition of "ancients and moderns," nor as a "teacher of evil," nor as an advocate of "lowering the standards." Instead, Machiavelli is viewed in terms of the deeper and more revealing opposition of Jerusalem versus Athens, or reason versus revelation (the theme of chapter 7). In that quarrel, Machiavelli is presented as being on the side of the philosophers, of the classical political philosophers. One may see this most easily by comparing the beginning and end of the Machiavelli chapter. Strauss mentions in the first paragraph that Aristotle favored the virtue of magnanimity, claiming great honors for oneself when those honors are deserved, in contrast to the biblical Isaiah, who sees himself as utterly humble and unworthy in the face of the Holy God. At the end of the chapter, Machiavelli is said to have admired the magnanimity of the Roman statesman Camillus. That is, Machiavelli sides with Aristotle against the Bible on this crucial virtue. Strauss speaks of Machiavelli's enterprise as the recovery of "ancient virtue." For Machiavelli himself, that recovery enabled him to achieve what Strauss calls "a greatness beyond Camillus' greatness," which, Strauss suggests, is seen in Machiavelli's ability to combine gravity and levity, "a combination that Machiavelli regarded as commendable because in changing from gravity to levity or vice versa, one imitates nature, which is changeable." In other words, Machiavelli's greatness is not to be looked for in some sort of vain attempt to conquer nature, but rather in his supreme understanding of nature—in his being a philosopher. It is not modern philosophers like Machiavelli but the postmoderns (i.e., Heidegger, chapter 1, but perhaps not Nietzsche, chapter 8) who lose touch with what genuine philosophy is and turn instead to the gods as the ground of meaning.
- Leo Strauss and the Theological-Political Problem, by Heinrich Meier
Meier's book presents the most convincing account of Strauss that I have ever read, although I must immediately confess that I have not been able to keep up with the vast recent outpouring of publications on Strauss. For Meier, what is indispensable for understanding Strauss is Strauss's distinction between the intention of a philosopher and his teaching. The teaching is what had an effect on the later history of philosophy—the philosopher's exoteric message or how it was perceived by others. The intention is the actual insight of the man, as opposed to the public presentation and impact of that insight. On the level of its teachings, the history of philosophy is a cacophony of competing voices. On the level of the underlying intentions of the philosophers, there is surprising agreement beneath the seemingly irreconcilable surface oppositions. If the reader focuses too much on the teachings of the philosophers, he is likely to conclude that modern philosophy is a repudiation of the classical approach. On the level of intention, one sees repetitions of the fundamental insight of all the philosophers. Of course, if those repetitions are to be more than mere mouthings of previous discoveries, each philosopher must begin again from the beginning, starting not with what previous philosophers have achieved, but with the prephilosophic beginnings that are the only true beginnings of any adequate attempt to think for oneself. Meier very appropriately chooses Rousseau to illustrate his thesis. Strauss has two very different writings on Rousseau, one on his intention, the other on his historical impact. In the former treatment ("On the Intention of Rousseau"), Rousseau appears as something of a Platonist, devoted to the philosophic life as the best, and opposed to the Enlightenment faith in the diffusion of knowledge to the people. Strauss presents his account of Rousseau's teaching in Natural Right and History, a book largely devoted to the teachings of the philosophers, as opposed to their intentions. Here Rousseau is a proto-historicist, well on the way down the slippery slope leading to Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. In other words, the real Rousseau is emphatically not a historicist or even on the way to historicism.