Those who do not study tyranny—if I may offer a somber twist on an old cliché—are condemned to endure it.

This seemed to be the view of the great teacher of political philosophy Leo Strauss, who memorably scorned the fecklessness of twentieth-century, value-free social science. “When we were brought face to face with tyranny—with a kind of tyranny that surpassed the boldest imagination of the most powerful thinkers of the past,” Strauss observed, “our political science failed to recognize it.” Among his students, none has written more comprehensively on the theoretical and philosophical questions surrounding tyranny than Waller R. Newell, a professor of political science and philosophy and a co-director...


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