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Politics for Everybody

Reading Hannah Arendt in Uncertain Times

In this age of nearly unprecedented partisan rancor, you’d be forgiven for thinking we could all do with a smaller daily dose of politics. In his provocative and sharp book, however, Ned O’Gorman argues just the opposite: Politics for Everybody contends that what we really need to do is engage more deeply with politics, rather than chuck the whole thing out the window. In calling for a purer, more humanistic relationship with politics—one that does justice to the virtues of open, honest exchange—O’Gorman draws on the work of Hannah Arendt (1906–75). As a German-born Jewish thinker who fled the Nazis for the United States, Arendt set out to defend politics from its many detractors along several key lines: the challenge of separating genuine politics from distorted forms; the difficulty of appreciating politics for what it is; the problems of truth and judgment in politics; and the role of persuasion in politics. O’Gorman’s book offers an insightful introduction to Arendt’s ideas for anyone who wants to think more carefully

Author Information

Ned O’Gorman is professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of The Iconoclastic Imagination, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


“In Politics for Everybody, O’Gorman presents a concise and engaging argument for why political participation, leadership, and judgment are honorable and essential practices for a free society. His prose is clear and accessible, and at times truly eloquent. More than just a superb introduction to Arendt, this book could directly improve civic life in the United States.”
— Robert Hariman, Northwestern University

Politics for Everybodyis a brave and successful attempt to introduce readers to Arendt’s ideas of politics in the face of the distorted examples in contemporary political thinking and acting. O’Gorman’s assumes—rightly, I think—that people are ready to hear a new case made for politics and the political, terms which here refer to an activity and an attitude, an ethic and an ethos. All those interested in contemporary politics will profit from meditating on O’Gorman’s rethinking of what politics should be about.”
— Richard H. King, University of Nottingham

Audience: Professional and scholarly;