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The Life and Death of Democracy

John Keane (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book
 

From Plato to de Tocqueville to Fukuyama—an epic history of the governing philosophy that has defined Western history.

In the grand tradition of Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers comes this provocative history of world democracy, which begins with the ancient Myceans and ends in our fractious present. Overturning long-cherished notions, John Keane poses challenging questions: Did democracy actually begin in ancient Greece or earlier in Mesopotamia? Do the American and British systems actually live up to their democratic ideals? Why is there a bad moon rising over the world’s democracies? Written by a leading political theorist, this book presents readers with a counterintuitive look at democracy’s past, present, and future, which Keane argues lies not in the West but in the turbulent democracies of the East, especially in India. Avoiding the triumphalism of global democracy’s most boisterous pundits, Keane cautions that democracy today is more fragile than ever and that, unless major corrective measures are taken, we may be sleepwalking our way into even deeper trouble.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • August 2009
  • ISBN 978-0-393-05835-2
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 992 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Starred Review. Traces democracy's roots back to Sumeria and follows its tendrils as far afield as Pitcairn Island and Papua New Guinea….engrossing profiles of obscure politicians and reformers…his study's broad sweep, wealth of detailed knowledge, shrewd insights and fluent, lively prose make it a must-read for scholars and citizens alike.” — Publishers Weekly

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