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The Politics of Good Intentions:
History, Fear and Hypocrisy in the New World Order
David Runciman

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"David Runciman combines the expositional clarity of a talented political journalist and commentator with the conceptual concerns, historical depth, erudition, and theoretical sophistication of a gifted scholar. The result is a lucidly and gracefully written book that usefully probes fundamental issues raised by both the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the highly dubious patterns of response associated with the political leadership of George W. Bush in the United States and Tony Blair in the United Kingdom."--Richard Falk, International History Review

"This is a powerful piece, a short critique of the types of rhetorical arguments used by the creator of New Labor in his notorious 'preacher on a tank' mode. Runciman assails the use of 'new dangers' as a justification for 'new obediences,' the way that if a 'risk' is 'new,' a democratic leader need not make the normal informed balance of known risk and known freedoms, and thus the way that not taking the country to war becomes a 'risk no responsible government could afford to take.' . . . Essential for understanding how he is likely to be judged when he leaves office? Sadly, absolutely."--Peter Stothard, Globe and Mail

"The Politics of Good Intentions . . . signals a welcome re-engagement of contemporary political thinkers with politicians' thought. We can but hope that Runciman's efforts will be reciprocated."--Political Studies Review


"Wonderfully written, lively, and energetic, The Politics of Good Intentions provides an illuminating guide to a host of contemporary issues, both practical and theoretical. Runciman marches to the beat of no drummer; his analysis is invariably fresh and often remarkably creative."--Cass Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor, Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

"Whenever I read David Runciman, I'm reminded of what I'm always missing in contemporary political writing: perspective. Theoretically sophisticated and empirically concrete, witty and serious, historical and contemporary, Runciman is the E. H. Carr or A. J. P. Taylor of our times--always engaged, always pushing, always a surprise. His is a genuinely transatlantic voice of sanity and hope, which should be heard on both sides of our shared pond."--Corey Robin, City University of New York, author of Fear: The History of a Political Idea

"We have been waiting for a book on the world after 9/11 and the decision to go to war in Iraq, and this is it. David Runciman's The Politics of Good Intentions is a masterly analysis of the mix of moralizing illusion and economy with the truth that has infected politics since the terrorist attacks, and which took the U.S. and Britain into an unending war in Iraq. Rigorously reasoned and written with a spare elegance and grace, this will be the canonical book on Blair, Bush, and Iraq for some time to come."--John Gray, London School of Economics, author of Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern and Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

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File created: 4/21/2017

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