"Who decides? Who is the Sovereign? What is a good act?" In quest of answers to these vitally important questions, Bertrand de Jouvenel examines successively the nature and history of authority, the political good, the sovereign, and liberty. His concern is with "the prospects for individual liberty in democratic societies in which sovereignty purportedly resides in the whole people of the body politic." His objective is a definition and understanding of "the canons of conduct for the public authority of a dynamic society." He writes for "whoever would exercise the duties of a citizen." Sovereignty is the sequel to Jouvenel's widely acclaimed On Power, and was originally published in 1955. The Liberty Fund edition of Sovereignty includes a foreword that places Jouvenel's work in the context of his entire corpus.
“This book is direct sequel to On Power. It has cost me much hard work and may, I fear, cost the reader no less. Anyone wishing to follow me will find himself engaged in a difficult piece of exploration, and I know well that I am not a good guide; but I feel strongly that this exploration is necessary and should be attempted by whoever would exercise the duties of a citizen with full awareness of what he is about. In a word, though what I say may be of some importance, the subject itself is of vast importance.”
Bertrand de Jouvenel
Bertrand de Jouvenel was born in Paris in 1903; he traveled widely, becoming an astute observer of British and American institutions. Later in life, he was an author and teacher, first publishing On Power in 1945. Jouvenel died in 1987. Among his other books, besides The Ethics of Redistribution, are Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good (1957) and The Pure Theory of Politics (1963).