Two and a half thousand years ago the small Greek city state of Athens invented a new form of political regime. Today the name of that form of regime is the only credible basis on which to claim regular and lasting political authority across the entire world. This book explains how a casual practical solution to local Greek political difficulties so long ago has come to stand virtually unchallenged as the ground for modern political
authority. It shows how the idea of democracy has kept its power in a world which is utterly different from the world of classical Greece, and how the questions which the Greeks first raised about the meaning of democratic rule still loom over human political and economic institutions in a setting in which
no modern population can ever rule in practice, day by day, as the Athenian demos ruled. By viewing its astonishing history across this great arc of time, the book shows why democracy today has both the power and the vulnerability which make it the key to understanding politics; and it explains why it has triumphed so decisively in the modern world. Contributors: Simon Hornblower, Cynthia Farrar, Geoffrey Lloyd, Quentin Skinner,
David Wootton, Gordon S. Wood, Biancamaria Fontana, Charles S. Maier, Neil Harding, Sunil Khilnani, Susan Mendus, Neal Ascherson, John Dunn
`A tour de force of description and analysis, taking the reader from ancient Greece to Tiananmen Square and the present disintegration of federal Yugoslavia ... the essays are bright, stimulating and of considerable interest to those who want to understand how that fragile concept, democracy, had evolved ... an enlightened route map of the progress so far.'
Times Educational Supplement
`It is the message of John Dunn's instructive collection that democracy is special ... contains several noteworthy pieces [including] Simon Hornblower's ... elegant account of the creation of democratic institutions in ancient Greece ... Quentin Skinner's ... illuminating interpretation of democratic experiments in the Italian city-republics from the 12th century onwards ... it is as a history of democratic ideology that the book is most
`eminently clear-headed and readable collection.'
BBC World Service
`We haven't space to do justice to the pleasures of Dunn's collection ...'
Stuart Weir and Amanda Dickins, New Statesman and Society
`We have come to expect John Dunn to search the past for ideas which may help to illuminate the chances and dangers of the present, and to address such aspects of contemporary experience as we trust will decide the shape of the future. Readers of Democracy ... will find none of their hopes dashed. Professor Dunn has commissioned highly reputed and trustworthy experts to explore the links between the past promises and frustrations of democractic
theory and practice, and its present plight and prospects ... go[es] a long way to cataloguing the gains and losses of democratic theory and practice, baring the historical roots of both and discovering what now feeds them.' Zygmunt Bauman, Times Literary Supplement
`compulsory reading for those taking part in the "Architecture of Democracy" Symposium currently planned for the RIBA for late spring 1993.'
`the essays are bright, stimulating and of considerable interest to those who want to understand how that fragile concept, democracy, has evolved' Times Educational Supplement
`takes the reader on a spectacular voyagge through the life of an idea that matters intensely to all mankind. It brilliantly protrays the transformation of democracy from an unruly and incoherent master to a docile and dependable servant.' Financial Express, New Delhi
`a welcome review of the continuities and discontinuities of democratic theory and practice ... With a list of contributors which includes, amongst others, Quention Skinner, Gordon S. Wood, David Wootton, Cynthia Farrar, Susan Mendus and Neil Harding readers will know that they are in safe hands. That such authors do what is expected of them is, of course, merely to say that they do it very well ... Students of democracy will, it should be clear, find much
to reflect upon in these essays. They will be assisted by very useful bibliographies, especially for the earlier periods.'
Government and Opposition
`It would be an excellent political science reader or useful reading for students of law, government, or diplomacy in need of a detailed analysis of this institution ... The editor's comprehensive and provocative conclusion summarizes underlying standards and expectations about the content of the institution of democracy.'
American Society of International Law
`This collection should be compulsory reading in every sixth-form and not only for students of A Level General Studies'
Greece and Rome