Alan Wolfe

Political Evil

What It Is and How to Combat It

Vintage Books 2012

New Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 3, 2012 Jeff Bloodworth

Somewhere Hannah Arendt is smiling. In the pages of the 1945 Partisan Review Arendt declared, “The problem of evil will be the fundamental question...

Somewhere Hannah Arendt is smiling. In the pages of the 1945 Partisan Review Arendt declared, “The problem of evil will be the fundamental question of postwar intellectual life in Europe.” In the short-term, Arendt couldn’t have been more wrong. With Marxists and postmodernists rejecting the very idea of “evil,” academics and intellectuals (yes, there is a difference between the two) rarely investigated the “problem of evil.”

The international security issues of the post-Cold War era, however, have brought Arendt’s proposition to the fore. From the Balkans and Rwanda to Osama bin Laden, American policymakers have confronted issues of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and mass terror that have forced intellectuals to reconsider “evil.” One of our culture’s leading public intellectuals, Alan Wolfe, has penned a marvelous work on the issue,Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (Vintage, 2012)). In this readable and timely book, Wolfe defines political evil, offers some definitional accuracy, and urges readers to become serious about the issue. If you are at all interested in the politics of foreign policy and crafting a intellectual framework for a serious strategy go listen to this interview and go buy and read this book.

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