Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places

Paul Collier, Author . HarperCollins $26.95 (255p) ISBN 978-0-06-147963-2

In this accessible and very sensible analysis, Collier (The Bottom Billion ) argues that the spread of democracy after the end of the Cold War has not actually made the world a safer place, as the West has “promoted the wrong features of democracy: the façade rather than the essential infrastructure.” The author hypothesizes that an insistence on elections without a system of checks and balances has led to widespread corruption, nations mired in ethnic politics and economic underperformance. Collier examines the effect of civil wars, coups and rebellions on burgeoning democracies, founding all arguments on methodology and data sets that provide a hard, quantitative view of political violence. While many of his observations are insightful and occasionally prescient, his analysis weakens when it strays from the data and enters more theoretical territory. However, the author maintains an approachable style and reaches beyond jargon to provide a highly readable account of the complex realities facing the developing world. Collier's suggestions are pragmatic, and although they may incense ideologues, most readers will connect with this common sense approach matched with obvious expertise. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-0-09-952351-2
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