Review of Damn Great Empires!: William James and Politics of Pragmatism by Alexander Livingston [Book Review]

William James Studies 15:94-101 (2019)
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Alexander Livingston’s fascinating examination of William James’ work in Damn Great Empires!: William James and the Politics of Pragmatism argues that “William James was an important and innovative theorist of politics.” Livingston claims that James’ anti-imperialist arguments in the letters, editorials, and speeches collected in the Nachlass are an important part of James’ philosophical corpus that provides a critical lens through which the rest of James’ work can be fruitfully read. Though Livingston is not the first to propose a political reexamination of James’ thought, his careful and systematic book-length work provides one of the strongest and most sustained arguments for a historical reinterpretation of James. In this review, I point out some of the strengths and limitations of Livingston's project.

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Erik Nelson
Dalhousie University


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