Review of A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass, edited by Neil Roberts (2018) in Contemporary Political Theory

“As editor Neil Roberts acknowledges in the introduction, efforts to canonize Douglass risk sacrificing ‘the prime content and intellectual impulses’ that motivated his politics and philosophy (p. 3). How do we elevate Douglass as political theorist without eliding the many experiences and influences that ground his complex thinking?”

“Motivated by these challenges, Roberts has placed fourteen pieces across four thematic parts that champion Douglass’s contributions as political theorist. The sequence and selection of these works are the book’s two greatest strengths. Douglass knew the political power of storytelling, and so Roberts has wisely compiled these works with a clear narrative.”

Read the review here.

Review of Benjamin Franklin, Natural Right, and the Art of Virtue, by Kevin Slack (2017) in Perspectives on Politics

“Perhaps more than any of the American Founders, Benjamin Franklin has long endured simplistic depictions of his moral and political philosophy that range from the deifying to D. H. Lawrence’s derisive claim that the pedagogue set up “the first dummy American.” Scholarship on Franklin since the 1990s has largely retired such polarized representations; discussions among political theorists and others have increasingly offered more nuanced portrayals of a figure whose ideas and involvement in the revolutionary period were at times complex, contradictory, and contentious.”

“Kevin Slack joins this conversation with his new book, a comprehensive reading of Franklin’s ideas that takes as its starting point the often contradictory relationship between the thinker’s politics and his philosophy.”

Read the review here.