The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World

Larry Diamond, Author Times Books $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7869-5
Political scientist Diamond (Squandered Victory), a leader in the field of democracy studies, provides a broad, authoritative survey of international trends and evolving academic thinking concerning the development and maintenance of democracies worldwide. Looking broadly at internal and external factors driving democratic movements, as well as the forces that sustain them once in place, Diamond argues democracy is not a Western anomaly, but a universal value. Diamond, who served as senior advisor to the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority, has witnessed democracy-building efforts at close range. The promotion of democracy in authoritarian regimes through either peaceful pressure or international interventions, Diamond believes, is rarely effective unless supported by outside assistance designed to strengthen internal civil societies. Democracy by force, he intones, has the poorest track record of all, and urges the U.S. and other established democracies to clean up their own houses, reasoning that ""It does little good to promote freedom abroad while it gradually slips away at home."" Being generally sanguine about the nature and influence of democracies, however, Diamond tends to downplay how they might also serve to maintain exploitative social and economic relations, amongst other political complications, but there's much to glean in this optimistic and carefully supported account.
Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-8050-8913-4
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-1-4299-2439-9
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