In this incisive look at early modern views of party politics, Harvey C. Mansfield examines the pamphlet war between Edmund Burke and the followers of Henry St. John, First Viscount Bolingbroke during the mid-eighteenth century. In response to works by Bolingbroke published posthumously, Burke created his most eloquent advocacy of the party system. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the material, Mansfield shows that present-day parties must be understood in the light of the history of party government. The complicated organization and the public actions of modern parties are the result, he contends, and t the cause of a great change in opinion about parties. Mansfield points out that while parties have always existed, the party government that we kw today is possible only because parties are w considered respectable. In Burke's day, however, they were thought by detractors to be a cancer in a free polity. Burke, however, was an early champion of the party system in Britain and made his arguments with a clear-eyed realism. In Statesmanship and Party Government , Mansfield provides a skillful evaluation of Burke's writings and sheds light on present-day party politics.
Harvey C. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Machiavelli's Virtue and has translated The Prince, Discourses on Livy, and Democracy in America, all published by the University of Chicago Press.