Penn State

Lee Ann Banaszak - professor of political science and women's studies (affiliate), College of the Liberal Arts

Book Title: Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism

Author: Adam Przeworski and John Sprague

Book Description:

This book, which I initially read as a series of papers, greatly influenced my decision to enter graduate school. As a senior, a course with Przeworski inspired me to consider graduate school, but it was two years later that reading parts of this book led me to study under John Sprague at Washington University. While the eloquent use of mathematics to develop models of political behavior and the test of those theories using data initially attracted me to graduate school, I have carried the other lessons in the book (lessons that John emphasized throughout my graduate education) with me throughout my career. A main point of Paper Stones is that the individual's political behavior can only be understood within the larger political structures that exist at a given moment in history. It is this idea that context — both structural and social — always influences individual action that has become the focus of my own work. Another lesson is that, regardless of the level of complexity, excellent books tell a story. Paper Stones, despite extensive development of the mathematical model, tells a great story about the strategic choices facing left parties. I can only hope that my attempts to follow this lesson have worked half as well.


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