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The Wish for Kings: Democracy at Bay

Lapham, Lewis H.

15 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0802114466 / ISBN 13: 9780802114464
Published by Grove Press, 1993
Condition: Very Good + Hardcover
From Taos Books (Santa Fe, NM, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed by Author Signed by Author Signed by Author Dj. shows light edgewear, mild rubbing, no tears. Mildly bumped tips on ft. bds., 213 like new pages. Clean and tight. Inscribed by author on half-title age. Bookseller Inventory # 17253

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Wish for Kings: Democracy at Bay

Publisher: Grove Press

Publication Date: 1993

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Very Good +

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Argues that the current distaste for dissent, the widespread support for Perot, and the public obsession with celebrity reveal a desire for autocracy

From Kirkus Reviews:

The editor of Harper's and author of Imperial Masquerade (1990), etc., reaches the top of his form in five distinguished essays arguing that too few Americans any longer care or know enough to protect and nurture democratic institutions. ``[The] habits of liberty have fallen into disuse,'' writes Lapham, ``and the promise of democracy no longer inspires or exalts a majority of the people lucky enough to have been born under its star.'' America has devolved into an oligarchy, the argument begins--an argument buttressed with facts, figures, and observations--and the nation's collective frame of mind has changed as well over the past 30 years from that of ``democrat'' to that of ``courtier'': from a citizenry that understands government to be what the governed make of it to a citizenry that passively and obsequiously seeks favors and dispensations from the high and unresponsive powers that be. A numbing and closing down of democratic energies and freedoms of discourse is one result of such a situation, since ``[very] seldom does anybody hazard a guess or an opinion that might harm his or her chance of advancement,'' so that, even in the greatest universities, ``the range of acceptable opinion bears comparison with the wingspan of a bumblebee.'' Government itself (``a mock democracy'') is excoriated no less than is the ``chronic servility'' of American journalism in performing its ``duties as court chamberlain and archflatterer.'' And both are part of a nation trapped by a mass media whose vocabulary ``doesn't lend itself to the discussion of complicated political issues, much less to moral ambiguity or moments of doubt.'' The appeal of a candidate like Ross Perot was really the appeal ``of benevolent despotism,'' and Lapham's warning that ``the wish for kings is the fear of freedom'' takes on special power alongside his reminder that ``liberty withers and decays unless it's put to use.'' Eloquent, piercingly intelligent essays crying out against America's Orwellian future. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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