The ancient Western tradition of political thought, appropriate to men seeking freedom and virtue in community, has in our century been hounded into obscure corners by materialists and romantic revolutionaries. Yet, here and there, the tradition remains alive and even shows signs of a renewed vitality.

One such sign is the work of William C. Havard, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and former president of the Southern Political Science Association, some of whose occasional articles have been here collected. Havard’s work is impressive in two respects. First, it offers a critique of the reigning “value-free” empiricism of academic political science. Havard subjects this misguided orthodoxy not only to the rigors of philosophy but also to the lash of satire, as in the hilarious essay on “The New Lexicon of Politics: or, How to Engage in Research Without Really Thinking.”

The second notable virtue of Havard’s approach is that it links him to his comrades-in-arms. This linkage is acknowledged in two exceptional essays on “The Politics of I’ll Take My Stand” and on the underappreciated Michael Oakeshott. Two other pieces pay homage to the late Eric Voegelin, Havard’s teacher and friend. In all, Havard’s book is a treasure of broad learning and common sense.


[The Recovery of Political Theory: Limits and Possibilities, by William C. Havard; Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press]