Michael Walzer is one of the pre-eminent political theorists in the world today and also a prominent public intellectual. His conception of social justice and his work on just and unjust wars have been hugely influential in political theory and, at the same time, he has taken a public stand on many of the great issues of our time, from the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War to 9/11, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq War. He stands out among political theorists and philosophers by virtue of his attention to historical reality and his sensitivity to social and political context. Convinced that philosophical debate is only useful if it is rooted in the concrete practices and morality of societies, he develops a form of social critique that is opposed to a disembodied philosophy which does not respond to concerns of ordinary people. For Walzer, it is useless to try to write a theory of justice: the challenge is to think through issues of justice in relation to the particular contexts in which people live out their lives. The core strength of his work is his practical instinct: if individuals are contextualized, critique must be too.
This book takes the form of an extended conversation between Walzer and Astrid von Busekist, ranging from Walzer's biography and political activism to his work on war, justice and Judaism. Weaving together his theoretical work and his political activism, it provides an outstanding introduction to the life and work of one of the most influential political theorists of our time.