Before the State: Systemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution Review

Before the State: Systemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution
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Before the State: Systemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution ReviewI have read this book three times! When you pay $160.00 Dollars to Oxford University Press for this learned, scholarly treatise, you do indeed read it well!
Dr. Andreas Osiander comes from ancient German blood; his name has been around in German religious biblical culture for 500 years. He has noble ancesters who bear his same name.
His competent mastery of learned Medieval Latin and Medieval German is a rare delight for a scholar to encounter. His mastery of the ancient tongues is equally felicitous and charming.
However, what is most important are his critical, lucid ideas as to how rulership and political arrangements had changed very little from the ancient world to the early modern world. He gives an unusually careful insight into the inner workings of royalty and nobility.
He correctly dismisses the vulgar notion of an ancient 'city-state' and elucidates the obvious patterns of rulership in the ancient world to the present age.
He is a savant! When you read his book you are immediately entering into a realm of higher learning that enriches your own humnity and intelligence about the tiny details of human affairs for the last 40 centuries. He will give you correct judgment about religious-political affairs in our European tradition. His remarks of the Merovingian and Carolingian kingships enhances one's knowledge of this murky period. His mastery of the appropriate dialectal languages, scripts and transmission of texts and rituals is profound.
In short, if you do not buy this treatise, and you are yourself a serious student or scholar of political science or government, you have done grave injury to your academic reputation.
For you young students and scholars (I am an old man of 61 years of age in A.D. 2008), save your money so you can own this treatise. It will add sobriety, judgment and acute intelligence to your tender mind. Dr. Osiander writes well so your learning is immeasurably ennobled. Furthermore, your humanity will become enlarged. He has done the arduous labor from a life time of acute, painful learning, so you will reap the reward by your faithful buying and reading of his magnum opus!
Since this treatise is filled with more than 200,000 details spread over 564 pages, his greatest feat is that his exposition is not arid. Dr. Osiander knows how to write intensely interesting prose. His competent mastery of more than twenty languages makes him worthy of the House of Habsburg of which I presume his illustrious ancient family is interwoven with.
I simply could not put his book down! I keep it by my bed as a token of what a great humane man in the post-modern age can be! I solicited his e-mail address from a Google search, and have every intention of writing and sending him an e-mail to express my pleasure at buying his book, and what is most important, actually reading it more than once. What more kudos can one confer on a great scholar! There are so few of them these days with the insidious mantra 'publish or perish' dupery exacting its heavy toll on our learned universities, colleges and institutes of learning. Our scholars generally write trash to keep an endless litany of dry dribble of a mediocre quality coming off our university presses---hence it is rare and delightful when you encounter a German scholar of the stature of Mommsen or Sir Ronald Symes in historiography or Literae humaniores.
Buy this $160.00 book and read it---you will understand the polite and civil society you live in, and better yet, how it got to the place you find it in. Your humane sympathies will grow by leap and bound. The 'Good of Moral Good' will take hold in the root of your being, if I may use a Posidonian philosophical image.
I am pleased that I am the first to write a review of this great learned man's felicitous masterpiece for I do not write that many reviews (less than ten so far), and I only write on those books that I passionately loved pouring over. This certainly is such a book!Respectfully,John E.D.P. Malin, M.A. [Literae humaniores]
Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer
Informatica Corporation
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--Before the State: Systemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution OverviewThe idea that society, or civilization, is predicated on the "state" is a projection of present-day political ideology into the past. Nothing akin to what we call the "state" existed before the 19th century: it is a recent invention and the assumption that it is timeless, necessary for society, is simply part of its legitimating myth. The development, over the past three millennia, of the political structures of western civilization is shown here to have been a succession of individual, unrepeatable stages: what links them is not that every period re-enacts the "state" in a different guise--that is, re-enacts the same basic pattern--but that one period-specific pattern evolves into the next in a path-dependent process. Treating western civilization as a single political system, the book charts systemic structural change from the origins of western civilization in the pre-Christian Greek world to about 1800, when the onset of industrialization began to create the conditions in which the state as we know it could function. It explains structural change in terms of both the political ideas of each period and in terms of the material constraints and opportunities (e.g. ecological and technological factors) that impacted on those ideas and which constitute a major cause of change. However, although material factors are important, ultimately it is the ideas that count--and indeed the words with which they were communicated when they were current: since political structures only exist in people's heads, to understand past political structures it is imperative to deal with them literally on their own terms, to take those terms seriously. Relabelling or redefining political units (for example by calling them "states" or equating them with "states") when those who lived (in) them thought of them as something else entirely imposes a false uniformity on the past. The dead will not object because they cannot: this book tries to make their voices heard again, through the texts that they left but whose political terminology, and often whose finer points, are commonly ignored in an unconscious effort to make the past fit our standard state-centric political paradigm.

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