9780801845895 / 0801845890

Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power


Publisher:The Johns Hopkins University Press



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About the book:

This survey of Western political thought ranges from Aristotle to "The Federalist Papers", showing how the doctrine of executive power arose and how it has developed to the present day. Although there were various "proto-executives", from Roman dictators to Christian kings, the modern executive first appears with Machiavelli's "The Prince". Yet Machiavelli's strong - even cruel - leader undermines republican theory. Subsequent philosophers, Mansfield argues, seized upon the Prince and transformed him into the American president. Liberalized by Locke, constitutionalized by Montesquieu, Machiavelli's bloodthirsty executive was finally "tamed" by channelling his antinomian energies into a uniquely flexible constitutional framework.

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