The Spirit of Democracy
The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World
By Larry Diamond
(Times Books, Hardcover, 9780805078695, 464pp.)
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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One of America's preeminent experts on democracy charts the future prospects for freedom around the world in the aftermath of Iraq and deepening authoritarianism
Over three decades, the world was transformed. In 1974, nearly three-quarters of all countries were dictatorships; today, more than half are democracies. Yet recent efforts to promote democracy have stumbled, and many democratic governments are faltering.
In this bold and sweeping vision for advancing freedom around the world, social scientist Larry Diamond examines how and why democracy progresses. He demonstrates that the desire for democracy runs deep, even in very poor countries, and that seemingly entrenched regimes like Iran and China could become democracies within a generation. He also dissects the causes of the "democratic recession" in critical states, including the crime-infested oligarchy in Russia and the strong-armed populism of Venezuela.
Diamond cautions that arrogance and inconsistency have undermined America's aspirations to promote democracy. To spur a renewed democratic boom, he urges vigorous support of good governance--the rule of law, security, protection of individual rights, and shared economic prosperity--and free civic organizations. Only then will the spirit of democracy be secured.
Larry Diamond is the author of Squandered Victory (0-8050-8008-2) and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has served as the co-editor of the widely respected Journal of Democracy since its founding in 1990. From January to April 2004, he served as a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He lives in Stanford, California.
"Meticulous… hopeful… The Spirit of Democracy takes on the world [and] offers well-grounded support to anyone who has questioned the long-held theory… that the richer the country, the greater the chances of sustaining democracy."—The New York Times Book Review
"Diamond is… eloquent in arguing that despite the recent blunders of American democracy promoters, there is still a role for the international community in helping societies that are struggling to be free."—Foreign Affairs
"Diamond … strenuously argues against the cynical idea that certain religions, cultures, or societies are incompatible with democracy, pointing to the progress of the past three decades as evidence that democracy is indeed a universal aspiration."—The Chronicle Review
"The Spirit of Democracy is a worthwhile corrective to America’s post-Iraq pessimism about the future of democratic ideals throughout the world."—Francis Fukuyama, author of America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
"Diamond offers a path forward, full of his customary wisdom, tough-mindedness, and passion. With friends like him, the spirit of democracy will rise again."—Peter Beinart, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, and author of The Good Fight
"No one has thought harder or more broadly about the past and future of democracy than Larry Diamond. A passionate treatment, infused with optimism and eminently readable, The Spirit of Democracy is a must for anyone who cares about the toughest challenge of balancing national values and national interests."—Jessica Tuchman Mathews, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
"Ambitious [and] authoritative… Truly interesting."—McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
"A thoroughly researched and informative account… intelligently composed [and] sure to provoke discussion… Highly recommended."—The Midwest Book Review
"Passionate… a refreshingly evenhanded overview of democracy’s global prospects… [Diamond’s] view… is wide-ranging and carefully considered, making this an especially effective work."—Kirkus Reviews