Strauss, Leo

▪ American political philosopher
born Sept. 20, 1899, Kirhhain, Ger.
died Oct. 18, 1973, Annapolis, Md., U.S.

      German-born American political philosopher and interpreter of classical political theory.

      Strauss served in the German army during World War I. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Hamburg (1921), he was a research assistant at the Academy for Jewish Research, Berlin (1925–32), and then worked as a Rockefeller fellow in England and France. He immigrated to the United States in 1938 (naturalized 1944) and served as a professor of political science at the New School for Social Research, New York City (1938–49), the University of Chicago (1949–68), Claremont (California) Men's College (1968–69), and St. John's College, Annapolis (1969–73).

      He wrote a number of books on such political philosophers as Thomas Hobbes, Niccolò Machiavelli, Benedict de Spinoza, and Socrates. Among his more noted works are On Tyranny (1948; rev. ed. 1968); Natural Right and History (1950), widely praised for its scholarly incisiveness; Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952); and What Is Political Philosophy? (1959). He also coedited History of Political Philosophy (1963).

      Strauss's books—lucid, insightful, and challenging—were written more for other scholars than for the general public, but he played an eminent role in American academic history and taught several generations of political scientists. He was largely credited with having revived and maintained the study of classical political philosophers in college curriculums at a time when such studies were overshadowed by quantitative and behavioral political scientists.

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Universalium. 2010.

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