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Body Politic

Political Metaphor and Political Violence

Author(s): A. D. Harvey

Book Description

The idea that there is an analogy between the social collective and the human body originated more than twenty-five centuries ago. It was known to Plato and St. Paul, and was adopted by state functionaries in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and by academics in the Nineteenth Century. In the early Twentieth Century the notion was taken up by military theorists and contributed to the formulation of new tactical and strategic doctrines, and it has resurfaced again in the IT era. At each stage the idea has been elaborated and given new emphases; for two millennia it has been part of the vocabulary in which successive generations have attempted to articulate their developing ideas about society. This book is more than simply a history of a political metaphor however: it is a history of how metaphor may be converted into action.

What reviewers said of earlier books by A.D. Harvey:

''Collisions of Empire is a vast, complex, and brilliant mosaic, each individual tessera of which is hard-edged and glittering.''
Richard Holmes, Times Literary Supplement.

'''Excellent... [A.D. Harvey] is a master of the concrete, the adroit displayer of the precious scrap of hard fact.''
Kathryn Hughes, Daily Telegraph.

"Arnold Harvey has written an energetic and eclectic book reflecting on the implications of the idea that society can be seen as a body. He takes us from ancient India to computer hackers, provides quotations rich and strange and explores the by-ways of assassination and aerial warfare. Engrossing."

Prof. Robert Bartlett, Dept. of Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews,
St Andrews KY16 9AL, Scotland


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8272-2
ISBN-10: 1-84718-272-0
Date of Publication: 01/09/2007
Pages / Size: 135 / A5
Price: £29.99


A.D. Harvey was born in 1947 and educated at St. John's College, Oxford and University (now Wolfson) College, Cambridge. His books include English Poetry in a Changing Society, 1780–1825 (1980), Collision of Empires: Britain in Three World Wars, 1793–1945 (1992) and Sex in Georgian England: Attitudes and Prejudices from the 1720s to the 1820s (1994), all of which have been reissued in paperback. He has also written for The Times Literary Supplement, BBC History Magazine, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes and Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift.