POLITICS AND HISTORY by Raymond Aron

POLITICS AND HISTORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

French sociologist-journalist-philosopher Raymond Aron's first book was published over 40 years ago in 1935 and in the intervening years he has written more than 30 diverse histories, analyses, critiques. The thirteen essays contained in this book--only four of which are translated for the first time--are drawn from Aron's postwar writings, and focus on the social responsibility of the intellectual and the role history plays in shaping the actions of the present. In ""Thucydides and the Recital of History,"" Aron discusses the dilemmas faced by a historian of contemporary events, offering perceptive insights into the nature of war itself and its inherent dynamic of escalation, and in the process drawing parallels between the Peloponnesian War and the European wars of 1914-1945. But his main emphasis is on the interplay of necessity and choice--or rather the necessity which results from choice--that determines each unique historical act and is irreducible to fixed laws. Thucydides is the historian of this interplay par excellence, and Aron's homage to him is apposite. This central theme is pursued in other essays, among them ""Machiavelli and Marx,"" ""The Liberal Definition of Freedom,"" and ""History and Politics."" Though this collection touches only a part of Aron's interests, it represents the core of his concerns, and the essay on Thucydides alone is worth the price.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
ISBN: 0878559442
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan