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Hans J. Morgenthau

An Intellectual Biography

Political Traditions in Foreign Policy Series

236 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 13 halftones

Political Science & Political History

  Hardcover / 9780807126585 / April 2001

Hans J. Morgenthau, a founding proponent of political realism, remains the central figure in international relations scholarship of the twentieth century. His book Politics among Nations literally defined the field in 1948 as it heralded the post–World War II paradigm shift in American thinking about diplomacy. Yet when Morgenthau died in 1980 at the age of seventy-six, no one present at his funeral had an inkling about the first half of his life—his education, his early productive career in Europe and America, or the roots of his political philosophy. In the first and only volume devoted to the intellectual formation of Morgenthau, Christoph Frei draws upon an overwhelming abundance of resources—including a lengthy paper trail of previously unseen diaries, correspondence, notes, and manuscripts—to disclose the compelling story of a great mind in the making.

Frei identifies the bases of Morgenthau’s ideas and clarifies many misconceptions, including Morgenthau’s link with Augustinian thought, his relationship with Reinhold Niebuhr, and the impact of major thinkers such as Max Weber, Hans Kelsen, and Carl Schmitt on the scholar. He offers incontrovertible evidence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s predominant influence on Morgenthau. Resoundingly praised in the original German,Hans J. Morgenthau is a brilliant life study that presents the first coherent picture of the European intellectual building blocks Morgenthau brought with him to America. 

Christoph Frei is a research fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation in Berne, author of Direkte Demokratie in Frankreich: Wegmarken einer schwierigen Tradition, and coeditor of Contending with Hayek: On Liberalism, Spontaneous Order and the Post-Communist Societies in Transition. He is currently studying the evolution of democracy in France since 1789 as a visiting research scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

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