Review by Choice Review
Within a brief book, Condren (political science, Univ. of New South Wales) intends the difficult tasks of surveying the range of Hobbes's work and, due to the literary focus of the Twayne series, discussing Hobbes as a theorist of letters: poetry, rhetoric, and history. Though the latter intent unbalances the former, the book is broadly successful in both tasks. It is written with grace and has many excellent insights; it can be read with profit by both new and seasoned scholars of Hobbes. Its greatest weakness is showing too great a respect for the divergent opinions of Hobbes's commentators, thereby underestimating both his coherence and consistency. Additionally, Condren has a sort of academic tic of occasionally giving a one-line comparison of Hobbes to some other important philosopher--these often seem wrong and are inevitably more obscure than suggestive. Therefore, the worst chapter is the last, "Intellectual Style and Brief Afterlife," where the search for comparisons and impressions is of little use and also avoids comments on Hobbes's political implications outside the English-speaking academic world. Nevertheless, all in all, this is a useful book that can be read as a supplement to Hobbes for beginners and can also be mined for insights and historical details by more advanced scholars. M. A. Bertman; emeritus, SUNY College at Potsdam
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.