Confronting Leviathan: Timely collection of essays on the thinkers behind the modern state

Book review: David Runciman uses elegance and clarity to present complex ideas, says Paschal Donohoe

English author, academic and political scientist David Runciman. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty

English author, academic and political scientist David Runciman. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty

Do not leave your home. Close your business. Stop shaking hands. You must wear a mask. Such instructions by a government, in the pre-pandemic era, would have appeared impossible. The power required to dispense these directions would have been associated with a dictator or all-powerful monarch. But states all over the world did this. The majority of citizens adhered to their directions. This is the clearest recent demonstration of the power of the modern state. 

Confronting Leviathan is an incredibly timely collection of essays on the thinkers who have influenced the development and understanding of the state. Author David Runciman hosts the exceptional weekly podcast Talking Politics, which delivers original insights on the most familiar of topics. The essays here are based on a set of talks he delivered in 2020. 

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