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Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  599 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
A landmark in comparative history and a challenge to scholars of all lands who are trying to learn how we arrived at where we are now.-New York Times Book Review ...more
Paperback, 559 pages
Published June 13th 1971 by Beacon Press (MA) (first published 1966)
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T.F. Rhoden
Oct 04, 2011 T.F. Rhoden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World is a masterful example of comparative historical analysis. More than any of the pieces I have been reading these past few weeks, Barrington Moore, Jr. is able to build as solid of an argument for the three major "routes to the modern world" from agrarian society as he does for the importance of qualitative methodologies in general. In other words, what he analyzes is as important, I believe, as how h ...more
Eren Buğlalılar
Bir burjuva tarihçisinin önemli bir çalışması. Karşılaştırmalı siyasetin temel taşlarından bir kitap. Özetle Fransız, Amerikan, Alman, Rus, Japonya, Çin ve Hindistan toplumlarında feodalizmden kapitalizme nasıl geçildiğini inceliyor. Bu geçişi anlamak için tek tek olaylara, şu ya da bu imparatorlara bakmak yerine toplumsal sınıflara, bunların üretim ilişkilerine bakıyor. Neden bazı ülkelerde bu dönüşüm devrimlerle gerçekleşti, neden bazılarında hiç devrim olmadı ya da neden devrim olan ülkelerin ...more
Ryan Milbrath
Aug 09, 2011 Ryan Milbrath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Social Originis of Dictatorship and Democracy to me was one of the books that comes along that stands as the pinnacle of comparative history and discussions of the political economy. One of the top five most important books I have read in my life. One review does not due justice to the amount of research and theoretical comparisons Moore accomplished in this book. Those who reduce the book's thesis to merely, if a bourgeois class does not exist, than a democratic-capitalist country will not exis ...more
Noel Konagai
Oct 09, 2015 Noel Konagai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When reading this book, it is important to keep in mind the order in which it should be read. I believe the most likely primary goal of a reader is to read the theory formulated by Moore. This theory is the last three chapters of the book. Hence reading the prologue and the last three chapters first, and then reading relevant countries is probably the best way to go. If linearly read, the grouping of countries is obscure and so is their relevance to formulating the theory. For example India is g ...more
Sep 09, 2010 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maybe-sometime
I only got through the first half of this before other, more pressing books forced it back to the library, but I will definitely return to it. I wouldn't recommend sitting down with it and reading cover to cover, but if you ever want some questions answered about why different countries end up with different systems of government, this is great. How did England and France both end up with democracy, when their approaches to it were so different? Why did China and Russia end up communist, while I ...more
Kw Estes
Though I was almost moved to give this 4 stars, I reconsidered upon reflecting that the only reason I would have done so is that this was the first book I'd read in months without regression tables or game theoretical models. All in all, it is an information-laden tome that presents a fairly simple theory of how democracies came to be (the use-value for explaining democratization in the contemporary context, I think, is sorely lacking). Moore obviously knows a lot about a lot, but the narrative ...more
Mark Desrosiers
May 19, 2007 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It's like you're getting twisted and pressed into Barrington Moore's densely packed brainfolds: so much knowledge, such a broad vision. I like these macrohistorians, they got balls. And it's harder to figure out their mistakes. Possibly the best course-assigned text I've ever read.
Oct 24, 2008 Tate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like ugly book jackets
This book made a really good doorstop. The pages were textured just right to grip the carpet, and it was thick enough to wedge under the door.
Sep 22, 2015 goddess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
I know this book is propped up and pedestalled (new word) as a genius comparative politics work. While it definitely covers a lot of ground (histories of some of the world's biggest "players") and describes how forms of government came to be, I found it wordy and rather difficult to digest. I kept asking, "So what's your point?" The writing just did not capture me and in fact confused me. I admit to skipping a few chapters and skimming a few others (as allowed by my professor, because 500 pages? ...more
Nick Geiser
To quote a professor of mine, the one-sentence version of this book is "Kill your peasants." Kill them early? You'll be a liberal democracy in the 20th century like England. Kill them late? You'll be a communist basket case.

On a more serious note, this book is a masterpiece of comparative politics/comparative historical analysis. It's a kind of book that couldn't be written today ("This can't be falsified!" some annoying reviewer would say), but it's still an impressive and plausible theory of p
Sep 21, 2015 Cory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much appreciate the nuanced take on history--the book doesn't pretend to have all the answers or even a framework for all of them. I greatly appreciated that.

Unfortunately, the formatting of the book could be better. The first part sets up the "facts" and the narrative for each of the main cases. The second uses it to make a theory. But it's hard to understand the "facts" without the context of the theory (or vice versa). The two should be more seamlessly integrated.
Jul 14, 2009 Vaughn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
a long, excruciating survey of the historical and sociological origins of parliamentary democracy, fascism, and communism in britain, germany, france, russia, china, india, and japan. i frequently have trouble separating my opinions of the content of a book from the author's ability to express that content clearly. this is a turgid, meandering tome that never seems to specify a main thesis or process clearly. small N analyses often resort to massaging the theory in order to show that the empiric ...more
Moore traces the origins of dictatorship and democracy to the forms of agriculture in medieval era. Apparently this is the most cited book in the social sciences.
Mar 16, 2009 Nick is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Whoaa. Moore isn't exactly a linear fellow. Recommend taking one chapter, at minimum and maximum, at a time. Re-read salient passages and hop around within chapters in order to follow the argument. He is good at quickly deconstructing recent historical theories and replacing them with a more pragmatic view.

What about religion? I'm about half way through and not much mention of religion at all for a "social" history. He disparages (mostly rightly) a number of Marxist arguments but is quite mater
Jun 27, 2009 Gill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a classic piece of work that reworked the ground for peasant studies. An amazing amount of information on peasant-landlord relations from places as diverse as France, USA, and China. It is interesting to read his thoughts on India, which I felt are similar to what many are expressing about Sub-Saharan Africa countries. While the book may seem to be just good history, or for critics maybe "anachronistic", I found the theories and insights to be highly relevant to my work in the borde ...more
Jun 08, 2010 Lina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's ... very informative. I am learning a lot about, you know, revolutions and such. ...definitely not one that I would be able to force myself through if it was not for class, regardless of how much of an "Important Text" its considered to be.

It's difficult to follow and the point that the author is makig ...kind of comes and goes. ...Hope none of my professors see this....
Apr 21, 2009 Vinicius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fictional
Excellent readding, althoug I failled to read it completely, for I had to return it. It was borowed to me by a colege professor. She came and simply ofered it for me to read. It was my first semester in colege, I still don't know how she figured out it was about one of my main interests. I guess she just liked me...
A classic look at the costs of modernization and the costs of inequality in producing the modern world. Dated, now--- but a fiercely reasoned account. Very much a book anyone interested in Russian serfdom, the English agricultural and industrial revolutions, or the end of the Ancien Regime in France should read.
Christopher Tang
An amazing read that helped define how I see the world of politics. This is not a light weight book or a breezy read. Moore presents a challenging read with every sentence heavy with ideas. I read this book as an undergraduate studying political science and never looked back.
Al-Hossain Al-Nour
الكتاب يتحدث بعمق عن التاريخ الاستبدادي لفرنسا و انجلترا و اميركا و كيف قامت فيها ثورات غيرت وجه التاريخ بأكمله ، الكتاب ليس بالمختصر ، ولمن ليس مهتماً بتاريخ أوروبا التفصيلي فلا أنصحه بقراءته ، إضافة إلى سوء الترجمة !!
Aug 22, 2009 Hyland rated it really liked it
Shelves: harvard
This is magnificent. It suddenly puts revolutionary thought into the perspective of those who are thinking those thoughts, and why. This has now led me to Walzer.
Anthony Galluzzo

More people should read Barrington Moore. and social scientists should once again at least attempt work in this broadly conceptual yet empirically rigorous vein....
Written in the 60's but still extremely relevant. Took a long time to finish though, you get a lot of facts and figures, but still worth it though.
Sep 23, 2007 Bmojaddidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know how cetain countries become democratic and how those countries function, i recommend you to read this book.

Feb 10, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I unfortunately had to do ye olde grad school reading of this text. It is one I definitely want to revist in detail.
Sara Fabulous
Oct 22, 2009 Sara Fabulous rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
This book is too detailed and in the end he makes grandiose claims that come out of nowhere.
Dipa  Raditya
Apr 22, 2011 Dipa Raditya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brief book to learn between a class relations and dictatorship in the modern world
May 09, 2013 Bengu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
sonsöz kitabın kendisi kadar hatta kendisinden iyi. layk.
Jan 18, 2013 Dan rated it liked it
Don't remember this well. I read it 20 years ago.
Dec 27, 2008 Boje rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
great start for comprehending historical sociology
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