Books That Inspire 2001

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
Jacob Burckhardt

Jacob Burckhardt’s classic The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy was among the assigned books for an honors reading course in history that I took during my senior year in college. What attracted me was Burckhardt’s audacity in interpreting an epoch, the Renaissance, in terms of big ideas – the development of individualism and of what he called a vision of “the state as a work of art,” that is, as an artifact that could be changed at the will of those who participated in governing rather that as something ordained by outside forces. Burckhardt’s assertion of the importance of culture in human life continues to inform my work as a political scientist.
Larry Hill
Professor Political Science