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

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  10 reviews
"Meticulous . . . [Diamond] gleaned that . . . the fate of democracy was not driven by events but by the passion of individual people."—The New York Times Book Review

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.

Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 8th 2008)
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Guilherme Casarões
A must-read for anyone interested in democracies and democratization across the globe. Long but enjoyable reading; provides a lot of useful and detailed country-specific information on the building of democracy and its setbacks.
As the author of this book notes, democracy has seen it's greatest expansion within the last few decades. Even today, with the current crises in the Middle East, democracy has not lost its luster to millions of people yearning for freedom. In 2008, Larry Diamond wrote this book about how democracies are formed, usually from the ground up, and the future prospects of various places on the map either becoming full democracies or improving the democracies they already have. And though some of his a ...more
Larry Diamond’s ‘The Spirit of Democracy’ provides a comprehensive overview of the main elements and key drivers of democracy, and its progress in the world historically. Diamond writes from a perspective of cautious optimism about the chances of democracy spreading and deepening across the globe, in spite of the contemporary setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and renewed resistance from authoritarian regimes in recent years. The book is well researched, citing numerous examples of democratic prog ...more
This is one of the most profound, insightful and intelligent political books I have ever read. I would put it up there with de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. In fact, you might say it takes many of the Frenchman's 19th Century insights and applies them to the rest of the world. With the exception of a few boring statistics, Larry keeps the flow moving, writing in a style that leaves you pondering each sentence. So it's a slow read, but a very worthwhile experience. Disclosures first. I atte ...more
Steven Taylor
While somewhat basic in its overall approach, I found this to be a solid book that provides a useful, timely and comprehensive overview of the current state of democratic governance on a global scale.

It is written in way that makes it useful for both classroom purposes as well as for the general reader. If used in class I would recommend that it be used in conjunction with a more theory-based text.
I really like Larry Diamond's synthesis of the issues, and this book intrigued me because of my recent work in Cambodia and the struggles it has to be a real democracy. I have had a bit more trouble getting into it -- it is more of a thesis than a story -- but I will let you know what I learn (if I don't have to return it to the library first!)
Timothy Cooper
A comprehensive, vivid argument on behalf of the cause of world democracy. It points the way to getting there, triumphant as that may sound. A tour de force of reason. Diamond's one of the champions of constructive geopolitical thought.
Ricardo R.cepeda
An excellent book!! It is must-read for those interested in democratic institutions. Prof. Diamond lays out in a comprehensible way the nuts and bolts of democracy.
This book had a very American-centric viewpoint and an immature writing style, with more phrases and ideas from other sources than from the author himself.
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