From climate change to nuclear war to the rise of demagogic populists, our world is shaped by doomsday expectations. In this path-breaking book, Alison McQueen shows why three of history's greatest political realists feared apocalyptic politics. Niccolò Machiavelli in the midst of Italy's vicious power struggles, Thomas Hobbes during England's bloody civil war, and Hans Morgenthau at the dawn of the thermonuclear age all saw the temptation to prophesy the end of days.
When did European modes of political thought diverge from those that existed in other world regions? We compare Muslim and Christian political advice texts from the medieval period using automated text analysis to identify four major and 60 granular themes common to Muslim and Christian polities, and examine how emphasis on these topics evolves over time. For Muslim texts, we identify an inflection point in political discourse between the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, a juncture that historians suggest is an ideational watershed brought about by the Turkic and Mongol invaders.