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Spectrum: From Right to Left in the World of Ideas

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  62 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews

Perry Anderson, eminent historian of the New Left, assesses the competing claims of rival intellectual groupings from the far right, the liberal centre and the Marxist left.

The focus of Spectrum is the range of contemporary ideas that runs from conservative to liberal to radical conceptions of state and society, rarely considered in the same optic. It looks at the theori

Paperback, 398 pages
Published June 17th 2007 by Verso (first published 2005)
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Darran Mclaughlin
I've had this book sitting on my shelves for a few years now and I finally pulled it off the shelves because I fancied reading some essays and Verso are a reliably excellent publisher. Perry Anderson enjoys a very high reputation amongst a very small group of people. He's the former editor of the New Left Review and an influential Marxist. This book is a collection of his essays on important thinkers ranging from the right, through the centre to figures on the left, ranging from Hayek to Hobsbaw ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Here we have an essayist dancing nimbly over the loftiest and most derivative material. Philosophy. History. Politics. Sociology. All are handled with ease and dexterity. With commentary as humbling as it is penetrating, Anderson proves himself a synoptist of the first order; no subject too complex for his distillations; no thinker outbounding his intellectual cartography.

Is there an writer that sees through the opaque geological strata of history as lucidly as Perry Anderson?? Only Christopher
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Magisterial essays on political thinkers. Anderson's style is perfect and the intelligence oozes off the page. (Careful where you put it down!) Same style as in A Zone of Engagement -- first the precise, sympathetic precis, then the identification of points of tension or obscurity or contradiction, which gradually develop into a critique so ferocious that in the end no two stones are left standing ... with a final sentence or two of praise for the ruins. That's true, at least, of the first set o ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, as always. The last story, tracing his father's work in colonial China through his letters, was a highlight for me.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Highlights are definitely the essays on Rawls/Habermas/Bobbio, and the story of his father's work in China. His analysis is always cutting but fair, and his writing is so precise, although the style is just slightly more relaxed than in his early historical stuff, where it's just devastatingly perfect. A couple of the pieces in the middle weren't really necessary but this is well worth reading.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Inosculating intellectual profiles of conservative dramatis personae - Hayak, Schmitt, Oakeshott, Strauss - and their left wing "counterparts" - Habermas, Thompson, Hobsbawn. By turns conversational and erudite, polymathic and dry.
Nov 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: academic
Lots of essays, most of them incomprehensible. Of all the books we read during the semester, this is the one my class hated most. And believe me, that says a lot.
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Perry Anderson (born 1938) is a Marxist intellectual and historian. He is Professor of History and Sociology at UCLA and an editor of the New Left Review. He is the brother of historian Benedict Anderson.

He was an influence on the New Left. He bore the brunt of the disapproval of E. P. Thompson in the latter's The Poverty of Theory, in a controversy during the late 1970s over the scientific Marxis
More about Perry Anderson...

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“Intellectuals are judged not by their morals, but by the quality of their ideas, which are rarely reducible to simple verdicts of truth or falsity, if only because banalities are by definition accurate.” 12 likes
“[A] resistance that dispenses with consolations is always stronger than one which relies on them.” 11 likes
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