On Democracy (Yale Nota Bene)

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9780300084559: On Democracy (Yale Nota Bene)
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Discusses the origins and theory of democracy, describes the institutions that develop in a working democratic system and the conditions that seem to lead to and result from democratic government, especially the positive and negative effects of a free-market economy, and offers suggestions for the future

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"Democracy has been discussed off and on for about twenty-five hundred years, enough time to provide a tidy set of ideas about democracy on which everyone, or nearly everyone, could agree. For better or worse, that is not the case."

Freshman poly-sci instructors need fret no longer, however; as an introduction to democratic principles, Robert A. Dahl's On Democracy is rather tidy, indeed. Dahl, an emeritus professor of political science at Yale, covers questions like "Where and how did democracy develop?" in accessible--almost chatty--prose, often taking the time to say a few "words about words," in which he examines, for example, the historical connotations of "democracy" and "republic" (it turns out that until James Madison declared there was a political distinction to be made, the only difference between the two was their etymological roots). Experienced readers may find their eyes glazing over at pronouncements such as "Democratic institutions are less likely to develop in a country subject to intervention by another country hostile to democracy in that country," but if you're looking for a comprehensive yet brief overview of how democracy works, On Democracy fits the bill.

From the Inside Flap:

In this accessible and authoritative book, an eminent political theorist provides a primer on democracy that clarifies what it is, why it is valuable, how it works, and what challenges it confronts in the future."Dahl, this country's leading student of democratic theory and practice, has written an eloquent and concise summary of the great issues in democratic thought."-G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

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Robert A. Dahl
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