By David Thomson
Review by Priya (History)
At school, Politics always seemed like an incredibly intellectual and highbrow topic of conversation. I enjoyed following the news and learning about international relations in History, my favourite subject, but beyond that, I knew very little else about political theory. It seemed challenging and a little daunting!
Political Ideas was recommended to me by my aunt who also studied History at university. This book was her go-to-guide for political theory and many years later, it still sits proudly on her bookcase at home. Political ideas offers the reader a collection of essays by some pretty distinguished historians and politics professors. Each one focuses on a different European political thinker of the last five hundred years, and provides a lovely, concise introduction into their works and theories. Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau, Paine, Burke, Hegel, Mill, Marx all feature within the book’s pages – don’t worry if you don’t recognise all the names, I certainly didn’t when I began reading!
The whole book is only 200 pages in length and each essay is written with clarity- it’s definitely not filled with horribly dense political jargon and long, overly complicated words! Plus the fact that it’s slim makes it very easy to pop in your bag and carry it around with you. For me, a good part of the book was read whilst I was in the London Underground! What I love about the book is that you step away feeling incredibly knowledgeable, and it’s always impressive to casually drop some political theory into a conversation when trying to impress! I believe that a book that can give you all of that is definitely worth a read.
This book is a great little treasure for anyone who is at all interested in politics, history, political philosophy, theory or even just big, crazy ideas! It’s equally useful for Year 10s or 11s who are in the process of deciding A Level (or IB or PreU) subject choices as it is for Year 12s and 13s who are applying to study a related subject at university. Above all, the book provides an accessible introduction into a discipline that can sometimes seem rather academic and tough.
And finally, one last piece of advice I have for Year 12s and 13s is not to be daunted by extra reading around a subject that you are interested in. It may seem like a lot, or that your friends are reading far more than you, but don’t let that faze you. Everyone is in the same position and if you read about something you are genuinely interested in, what may first seem like hard work becomes bizarrely enjoyable!
Political Ideas by David Thomson
Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase it from Amazon.