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About The Book

Ferdinand Mount has been fascinated by the great thinkers and politicians who have shaped human history over the past two millennia

In this fascinating, and provocative book, he examines the proposals for a political theory from a number of widely different historical figures. Twelve key people, from the great orator and statesman of Ancient Greece (Pericles) to the inspiration of the founding of the state of Pakistan (Muhammad Iqbal) we take a colourful and rip-roaring journey through the historical figures who have both inspired and provoked Mount in equal measure.

The lives of men such as Jesus Christ, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Thomas Jefferson are discussed and comparisons are drawn between the various approaches each figure promoted in their works – whether philosophical, or political theories.

For those wishing to be guided by Mount’s choices and be swept along by his brilliantly erudite prose, this will be a particular enjoyable read. Lots of colour, humour and passion governed all these people careers and Mount brings them to life like no one else can.

Praise for the international-bestselling Tears of the Rajas:-

'Mount is a skilled and fluent writer who does his subject justice' --Literary Review

'Mount relates this remarkable story with a gentle wit, a lightness of touch, a boyish enthusiasm as well as a genius for the telling pen-portrait… It is a remarkable story, and cumulatively amounts to an epic panorama of British Indian history much more substantial than the 'collection of Indian tales, a human jungle book', which Mount modestly describes as his aim in the introduction.' --William Dalrymple, The Spectator

'What [Mount] provides instead is of far greater value: a perceptive antidote to nationalistic prejudicial thinking, and an opportunity for a greater understanding of the aftereffects of British imperialism in some of the world's most troubled regions.' Sunday Times

'Although Tears of the Rajas is replete with stirring tales of adventure, it is a deeply humane book. Mount's heart is at all times with the people of India, whose lives are turned upside down by blundering attempts at modernisation.' The Times

About The Author


Sir William Robert Ferdinand Mount, is a writer, novelist, and columnist for The Sunday Times, as well as a political commentator.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (April 5, 2018)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471156021

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Raves and Reviews

‘Like many of his books, this one works because he writes so beautifully and with such an appealing personality … In our polarized times there is something to be said for his temperate open-mindedness, and certainly for his sense of humour.’

– Jeffrey Collins, Times Literary Supplement

‘Mount’s idea is to map the stars in the firmament of political thought … Thought is the point here, rather than biography, but Prime Movers shines best when the dense intellectual filleting takes a back seat to quirky life story … a beautifully efficient writer.’

– Hugo Rifkind, The Times

‘One of the finest essayists in the English language. Mount assesses 12 great political thinkers from Pericles and Jesus to Marx and Gandhi. His book encourages us to go back and read the originals again.’

– Chris Patten, The Tablet

‘An engaging collection of extended essays on a disparate bunch of thinkers. Ferdinand Mount is an accomplished writer, he has the knack of summarising complex ideas without giving the reader indigestion, and he contrives to be opinionated without being overly obtrusive.’

– The Oldie

‘The book surveys in extraordinary detail, and with exceptional insight, the ideas of 12 “Prime Movers”… conservative-minded readers should expect the unexpected.’

– Spectator

‘Mount has an ability not to be over-impressed by greatness, but at the same time to delight in it – an unusual combination of qualities… These 12 essays need not be read together; are so rich that they are best read separately, each serving as an introduction, or reintroduction, to the thinker under discussion.’

– Conservative Home

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