June 2009, Polity
Scheuerman shows Morgenthau to be an uneasy Realist, uncomfortable with conventional notions of Realism and sometimes unsure whether his reflections should be grouped under its rubric. He was a powerful critic of the existing state system and defended the idea of a world state. By highlighting Morgenthau’s engagement with the leading lights of European political and legal theory, Scheuerman argues that he developed a morally demanding political ethics and an astute diagnosis of the unprecedented perils posed by nuclear weaponry. Believing that the irrationalities of US foreign policy were rooted partly in domestic factors, he sympathized with demands for radical political and social change. Scheuerman illustrates that Morgenthau’s thinking has been widely misunderstood by both disciples and critics and that it offers many challenges to contemporary Realists who discount his normative aspirations. With the advent of the cosmopolitan goal of international reform, Morgenthau’s work serves up an unsettling mix of sympathy and hard-headed skepticism which remains crucially important in the development of the field.
Lucidly and persuasively written, this book will be a valuable resource for students and scholars seeking to understand the continued importance of Morgenthau’s thinking.
Perspectives on Politics
"Scheuerman’s introduction is the introduction Hans Morgenthau deserves: focusing on the intellectual life of the Weimar Republic and on other émigré scholars such as Hannah Arendt not only shows where Morgenthau’s epistemology and ontology were grounded, but the author also does away with the still common misreading of Hans Morgenthau as the founding father of a
predominantly structural realism."
"As a scholarly endeavor teasing out the nuances and ambiguities and historical tendencies in Morgenthau's evolving corpus, Scheuerman's book does not disappoint."
"Scheuerman rightly describes Morgenthau as an uneasy realist; he recognized the importance of power but also the dangers involved in the pursuit and exercise of power. His focus was accordingly as much on agency and ethics as it was on structural attributes of the international system. Scheuerman describes a thinker of particular relevance to our time and his thoughtful analysis of the evolution of Morgenthau's thought makes his book an essential read to anyone with a serious interest in international relations."
Richard Ned Lebow, Dartmouth College
"Few thinkers have been so influential and yet so misunderstood as Hans Morgenthau. William Scheuerman's superb study provides both a comprehensive reconstruction of Morgenthau's thinking and a challenging interpretation of its contemporary significance. Sweeping in its breadth and finely balanced in its judgments, this is not only a defining work of intellectual history; it is also a first-rate work of international political theory in its own right."
Michael Williams, University of Ottawa
"Once more the tired old cliche about realism being an apologia for power and a rationalization for the status quo is put to the sword in Bill Scheuerman's great new book. Indeed if he is right - and that twentieth century realism emerged out of debates on the inter-war left and not as the natural heir of some two thousand year tradition dating back to Thucydides - then we will have to rethink the history of contemporary International Relations in more ways than one. A brilliant and iconoclastic study of one of the greats of IR."
Michael Cox, London School of Economics and Political Science