What We Are Reading Today: Reading Machiavelli

Updated 19 September 2018
0

What We Are Reading Today: Reading Machiavelli

Author: John P. McCormick

To what extent was Machiavelli a “Machiavellian”? Was he an amoral adviser of tyranny or a stalwart partisan of liberty? A neutral technician of power politics or a devout Italian patriot? A reviver of pagan virtue or initiator of modern nihilism? Reading Machiavelli answers these questions through original interpretations of Niccolò Machiavelli’s three major political works— The Prince, Discourses, and Florentine Histories— and demonstrates that a radically democratic populism seeded the Florentine’s scandalous writings. John McCormick challenges the misguided understandings of Machiavelli set forth by prominent thinkers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and representatives of the Straussian and Cambridge schools.
McCormick emphasizes the fundamental, often unacknowledged elements of a vibrant Machiavellian politics: The utility of vigorous class conflict between elites and common citizens for virtuous democratic republics, the necessity of political and economic equality for genuine civic liberty, and the indispensability of religious tropes for the exercise of effective popular judgment.
Interrogating the established reception of Machiavelli’s work by such readers as Rousseau, Leo Strauss, Quentin Skinner, and J.G.A. Pocock, McCormick exposes what was effectively an elite conspiracy to suppress the Florentine’s contentious, egalitarian politics. In recovering the too-long-concealed quality of Machiavelli’s populism, this book acts as a Machiavellian critique of Machiavelli scholarship.
Advancing fresh renderings of works by Machiavelli while demonstrating how they have been misread previously, Reading Machiavelli presents a new outlook for how politics should be conceptualized and practiced.


What We Are Reading Today: Unbecoming

Updated 22 April 2019
0

What We Are Reading Today: Unbecoming

Author: Anuradha Bhagwati

Unbecoming is a raw, unflinching memoir by a former US Marine captain chronicling her journey from dutiful daughter of immigrants to radical activist effecting historic policy reform.
Anuradha Bhagwati’s memoir offers a distinctive lens on the Marines.
The daughter of two well-known Indian economists, she graduated from Yale and dropped out of graduate school at Columbia, where her parents taught.
“A tale of heroic resilience grappling with the timely question of what, exactly, America stands for, Unbecoming is about one woman who learned to believe in herself in spite of everything. It is the kind of story that will light a fire beneath you, and inspire the next generation of indomitable female heroes,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
In the Marine Corps, Bhagwati held posts in Okinawa, Thailand and Camp Lejeune, and excelled as a marksman and runner.
V.V. Ganeshananthan says in a review published in The New York Times: “The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit.”