Today’s Wall Street Journal carries a review of a new book by Carnes Lord. The book is The Modern Prince. Most books with names like this one are inferior works filled with an ersatz cynicism that pales beside the real article. But I suspect that Lord’s book is a different creature entirely.
I first met Lord when he was a young assistant professor of government at Dartmouth in the early 1970’s. He had already made a name for himself producing an extremely faithful Greek translation of Xenophon’s dialogue “Oeconomicus” for Leo Strauss’s 1970 book Xenophon’s Socratic Discourse. Lord left Dartmouth to get a second Ph.D. — this one in classics — at Yale, where I crossed paths with him again. He obtained his degree and the next I heard of him he was working on the staff of the National Security Council for Ronald Reagan. During his government service he somehow found time to work on a translation of Aristotle’s Politics, which came out in 1984.
He left the staff of the National Security Council to teach but returned to the government to work as assistant for national security affairs to Vice President Dan Quayle in the Bush administration. He has taught at the National Defense University, at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, and in his present post as a professor of strategy in the Strategic Research Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Naval War College.
In short, Lord is one of the most serious scholars of national security issues in the United States. He is not a cynic or a Machiavellian in any traditionally understood sense. I think that the Journal review of Lord’s book makes somewhat more sense with this background in mind, and it sounds in any event like the book is a must-read.
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