From The Movie Snob.
The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians Have Imagined the World, from Plato to Eleanor Roosevelt, by Mary Ann Glendon (Oxford 2011). What a pretentious title, huh? It’s awfully long for a 225-page book. Harvard law professor Glendon’s purpose is to explore the uneasy relationship between scholars and politicians over the centuries. Although the scholars’ influence can be considerable, Glendon highlights how seldom scholars achieve political power themselves (Cicero and Edmund Burke are primary exceptions she discusses; I imagine Woodrow Wilson also could have made the grade.) It’s a pleasant and interesting read, consisting of short chapters discussing mostly dead white guys who are fixtures in any decent survey course in Western political thought–Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Tocqueville being some of the principal players. If you’re already a politics scholar, you won’t learn anything new here, but for the amateur this is an enjoyable book.