The Crisis of Modern Times

Perspectives from The Review of Politics, 1939–1962

Edited by A. James McAdams


In the 1940s and 1950s The Review of Politics, under the dynamic leadership of Waldemar Gurian, emerged as one of the leading journals of political and social theory in the United States. This volume celebrates that legacy by bringing together classic essays by a remarkable group of American and European émigré intellectuals, among them Jacques Maritain, Hannah Arendt, Josef Pieper, Eric Voegelin, and Yves Simon. For these writers, the emergence of new dictatorial regimes in Germany and Russia and the looming threat of another, even more devastating, European war demanded that one rethink the reigning philosophical perspectives of the time. In their view, the western world had lost sight of its founding principles. Individually and collectively, they maintained that the West could be saved only if its leaders embraced the idea that society should be governed by moral standards and a commitment to human dignity.

Since the first issue appeared in 1939, The Review of Politics has influenced generations of political theorists. To complement these essays A. James McAdams has written an introduction that discusses the history of the journal and reflects on the contributions of these influential figures. He underscores the continuing relevance of these essays in assessing contemporary issues.

CONTRIBUTORS: A. James McAdams, Desmond Fitzgerald, Jacques Maritain, C. J. Friedrich, Denis de Rougemont, John U. Nef, Aron Gurwitsch, Josef Pieper, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, Hannah Arendt, Russell Kirk, Robert Strausz-Hupé, Waldemar Gurian, Louis de Raeymaeker, Frank O’Malley, Glenn Tinder, and Yves R. Simon.

A. James McAdams is the William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs and director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law in New Democracies (University of Notre Dame Press, 1997).

“The Review of Politics has been essential reading for students of political philosophy and politics for more than two generations, including among its contributors internationally renowned scholars whose works are both enormously influential and increasingly look to be contemporary expressions of perennial wisdom. To make seminal essays of this remarkable journal easily accessible, with more to come in future volumes, is a great service to students of political science at every level.” —Timothy Fuller, Lloyd E. Worner Distinguished Service Professor, Colorado College


“These essays from The Review of Politics have a common purpose: confronting the major political, cultural and other problems of Western nations. . . . The book’s 22 articles, of which several were written by European émigrés in the United States, are about their times—the mid-twentieth-century decades—not ours. Nevertheless, few are dated. One reason is that most deal not just with immediate concerns but with permanent questions. What, for example, constitutes a virtuous life and a just society, and how should politics be organised and conducted?” — Political Studies Review

“The Review of Politics, founded in 1939 by Waldemar Gurian, soon emerged as one of the leading U.S. journals of political and social theory. These collected essays from the journal’s beginning years showcase the critical thought of such distinguished authors as Hannah Arendt, Jacques Maritain, Leo Strauss, and Yves Simon.” — Notre Dame Magazine

“An exceptional collection of essays from the University of Notre Dame’s Review of Politics. Almost any one of the essays selected is worth the price of the volume. McAdams is to be lauded not only for the selection of these essays but for his admirable introductory essay that for its insight and judgment establishes him as a peer with the authors presented.” — The Review of Metaphysics