This book is the first comprehensive exposition of the work of one of the most important intellectual historians and political theorists writing today.Quentin Skinner's treatment of political theory as a dimension of political life marks a revolutionary move in the historical as well as the philosophical study of political thought. Skinner brings the study of political theory closer to the language of agents and treats theorists as politicians of a special kind. This is as true of his accounts of his contemporaries, such as Rawls, Rorty, Geertz and Habermas, as it is of his interpretations of classical thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes. Skinner has become internationally renowned for this approach, which ties together historical and contemporary analysis in order to integrate the study of the past and the present, and which tries fully to uncover the historical context and development of key concepts in political theory such as freedom and the state.This volume charts Skinner's work from the early 1960s right up to the present, including his most recent studies in the theory of persuasive speech, and is organized around five major themes: history, linguistic action, political thought, liberty and rhetoric. It pays particular attention to Skinner's work in relation to that of continental thinkers, especially Max Weber and Reinhart Koselleck.The book will be essential reading for students and scholars of political and social theory, history, philosophy and cultural studies.