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The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  496 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet dissident who spent a decade in gulags, has authored his vision for defeating terrorists worldwide: launching a flood of democratic initiatives, especially in totalitarian regimes. This book, which gained the attention of President Bush and his administration, outlines Sharansky's strategies - based on personal experience - for making the ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Balfour Books (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jeff
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Policy Wonks
Pros
1. Sharansky is an engaging writer. He has a considerable amount of passion for the subject, which helps carry the book along (and which is also one of the cons).
2. Sharansky does a good job of providing a history of one aspect of the Cold War, the dissident movement in the East Bloc and its importance in the final denouement of that conflict.
3. Sharansky provides an in-depth narrative of Israeli/Palestinian politics during the 1990s.
4. Sharansky's basic points - that democratic societies a
...more
'Izzat Radzi
Updated May 5th :
Kalau hendak dibaca buku bagaimana polisi Israel–atau sekurang-kurangnya apa dalam kepala rejim US dan sekutunya Israel- dibuat, bacalah buku ini. Kalau tidak, tidaklah buku ini disaranakan oleh salah seorang pembunuh besar-besaran, bekas presiden George W. Bush. Meskipun sangat ‘berasap kepala’ setiap kali penulis ini –yang merupakan politkus parti politik Israel, Yisrael Ba’aliyah Party selain pernah menjawat jawatan Menteri- cuba memperkakaskan prinsip ‘demokrasi’ dan ‘kebeba
...more
Matthew Trevithick
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book definitely has a powerful (and reassuring) central idea: namely, that democracy is a force for good in the world and worth spreading. Unfortunately, the examples Sharansky uses (Germany and Japan) make for absolutely poor comparisons to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kathy
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Sharansky is a former Soviet Jewish dissident and political prisoner who has championed the cause of democracy and freedom. In this book, he makes a strong case for the power of free, democratic countries to encourage freedom and democracy throughout the world. He argues that democratic countries throughout the world are much safer for America than are any kind of dictatorships. He even argues that America can play a strong role in bringing democracy to the non-democratic middle east. He sho ...more
Abdulrahman
Dec 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
While I agree with the basic idea of the book, the writer shows lots of hypocrisy when trying to bend his principles to defend Israel. He also stated clear lies as facts of history (when talking about the peace treaty between prophet Mohammad and his enemies in the city of Mekka).
Tom
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I couldn't finish this book (I read more than half). While I agree totally with the author's point(s) I just got tired of reading his self-adulation (if that's even a word).
Sean Rife
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good, but a bit overly simplistic and somewhat intellectually lacking.
Douglas
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
There is no doubt one may disagree with Natan Sharansky's approach or political ideology as a means; however, one who is adamantly a supporter of democracy cannot argue against Sharansky's end: democracy promotes freedom and security. And except for megalomaniacs, the majority of people in the world crave freedom. Sharansky calls for all democratic nations and peoples to reclaim a much needed quality and characteristic for all humanity: the need for moral clarity. We must listen to a prophet's v ...more
Gary
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Natan Sharansky knows more about resisting tyranny than most, having been incarcerated in a prison of one of history's greatest tyrannies-the Soviet Union, as he illustrated in his incredible memoirs Fear No Evil: The Classic Memoir of One Man's Triumph over a Police State

In this book he puts under the microscope the totalitarian states of the world, dissecting the inner workings of fear societies.

Sharansky contrasts fear societies with free societies. The profound moral difference between a fre
...more
David Veloz
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short book that deserves...

Some consideration today. Natan Sharansky wrote this book in the mid 2000's when the focus of American and Israeli policy was to promote democratization in the Middle East. Fast forward to 2016 and with the failures of the Arab spring, the raging civil war in Syria, the chaos in Libya, and Iraq teetering on the edge of disunity, Israel becoming more rigid on the peace process, and worse of all the rise of ISIS, anyone who reads this book could easily dismiss Sharansk
...more
Gyoza
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
Natan Sharansky, an erstwhile political prisoner in the Soviet Union, writes about how to accurately tell a free society from a "fear" society (one in which people do not enjoy basic liberties and are kept in check by their leaders through fear of punishment). He makes a good case for why it is in the interest of free societies to conduct their foreign policy in such a way as to link benefits granted to fear societies with requirements that the fear society reform its domestic practices.

Fear so
...more
Dottie Resnick
I listened to this book, not just once, but twice. It was that good and I still do not think I got out of it as much as I can. Natan Sharansky finished this book in 2005 and although I would really like to hear what he thinks about the world and how things have progressed since he completed this, I can tell you that it is as pertinent today (IF NOT MORE SO) than it was then.

He was held in a Soviet prison as a Jewish dissident, and supposed American spy for years. During Reagan's term as Preside
...more
Joel Justiss
Feb 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Sharansky, a Soviet political prisoner become Israeli government minister, tells how the desire of the Soviet peoples for freedom led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. He argues that everyone wants freedom, and that given an adequate opportunity, the people of any nation will choose democracy over tyranny. He states his belief that democratic governments are much better world citizens than dictatorships, and much less likely to wage wars. He applies this theory to the Arab/Israeli conflict, u ...more
Trudy Pomerantz
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political
Sharansky's analysis of tyranny - and the problem of the US and other free countries making deals with tyrannical governments or individual tyrants was very persuasive. It was in keeping with my belief that the US fails to understand that our enemy's enemy is not necessarily our friend. He makes an excellent point that any government (or individual) who would mistreat its own citizens is not going to make a good ally. I also found very believable Sharansky's argument that tyrannical government o ...more
L. King
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In Praise of Freedom
Reading this book will bring a song to your heart. I'm not entirely convinced by Sharansky's argument that democracy is the royal road to peace and freedom - I'm still letting the book sink in (it stays with you - which is why I think that its a good, no great, book!) - but I can hardly disagree with the example of his own life and experience. Whether or not he is right I found him inspiring. I think others might too and thus my recommendation.

Much credit for the prose belo
...more
Don Weidinger
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
statements for electorate vs truth, free society can lose moral courage, fear societies and free societies, détente is French word meaning relaxation, confront not appease, no respect for human rights is no respect for neighbor, promote true human rights promotes freedom, freedom is transformational, Islam is no difference between church and state vs Christianity render to Caesar, 22 middle east countries not free far east like India are free, the butcher is dead, world of double think as part o ...more
John
Feb 15, 2008 added it
I read this book a second time in 2006. Overall it's a wrongheaded book. The author writes with ostensible concern for Palestinians but devotes pretty much nothing to Israeli causes of their predicament, thereby unfairly attributing Palestinian problems primarily if not solely to Palestinians. This analysis is one-sided, to put it mildly, if not outright dishonest and Machiavellian. Despite all this plus his sycophantic, psychologically adept appeals to the hubris of his American readership, the ...more
Jerry
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Subtitled The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror, Sharansky believes that offering the same respect to dissidents and reformers in the Middle East that we offered to dissidents and reformers in the Soviet Union, that is, linking freedom of speech and other freedoms to any aid or other deals, will lead to functioning democracies.

Many people remain convinced that freedom is not for everyone, that its expansion is not always desirable, and that there is little that the free world can
...more
C
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book President George W. Bush stated inspired him during his presidency, the toughest question is asked in foreign policy - does Democracy fix terrorism? Notedly, this commentary is written by a former Soviet Jewish dissident who was imprisoned by the Soviet Union for his politics and later served as an Israeli government minister. He addresses nearly every aspect in modern history in which dictatorships ruled and how democracy effected or currently effects those nations who suppress their own ...more
Kim
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
The author is a Soviet Jew who spent 12 years in prison for trumped up charges of spying. He emigrated to Isreal after his release and spent some time working to integrate other immigrants into life in Isreal. Eventually he became involved in politics and makes a very compelling case for dividing governments into either democracies or terror states. He makes the case that the suggestion that 'Arabs' do not want 'freedom' or can't live in a democracy is shortsighted and gives as examples the foun ...more
Louis
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Natan Sharansky was a Jewish political dissident under the tyranny of Soviet rule before the fall of the USSR, and a man that Ronald Reagan made a personal crusade of freeing from bondage. Held for almost a decade in the KGB prison Lefortovo, he explains the hope that Reagan brought to those prisoners with his "Evil Empire" speech and how he knew then that it was the beginning of the end. Sharansky does a brilliant job of helping the reader to understand why we must support the cause of freedom ...more
Jamie Gilbert
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this right after Pres. Bush mentioned it in his state of the union address. I remember really enjoying it. I'd be curious what I would think of it today, given I have changed a lot since then in my political leanings. I'm giving it 4 stars b/c I remember it being great. If I get back to it and read it again, I'll adjust my rating.

Edit: I just went to my GoodReads home page and it suggested Ann Coulter b/c I gave this book 4 stars. I may have to adjust it to 1 star just for that foul play.
...more
Mike
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was excellent. Sharansky's ideas on moral clarity, the differences between fear and free societies, the inherently belligerent nature of dictatorships and the role of democracy in forming politically reliable states I believe is right on. A must read for any one that is interested in modern politics and nation development. He could have gone beyond the Isreal-Palestine conflict to include other examples of unstable fear societies (there are many) but his reliance on this example is und ...more
Dilorom
Sep 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Very well thought book. Although I don't agree with author's efforts to defend the State of Israel, I thought he lays out very good definition of human rights and democracy. I also wondered why he never touched upon a question of weather it was ok to pursue someone's rights on the burden of someone else's human rights in the example of the State of Israel and Palestine. Not mentioning human rights violations committed by Israeli soldiers and citizens seemed biased. Overall, I don't regret readin ...more
Maren
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know who Natan Sharansky is please read Fear No Evil. He knows whereof he speaks when it comes to the importance of freedom in the world today. He makes a compelling argument on the importance of a freedom society verses a fear society. Mr. Sharansky has been a KGB prisoner and a human rights leader and currently lives with his family in Israel. He believes that individuals should be able to freely speak their views in public without fear of punishment.
Jason
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


An outstanding and powerful book that makes a strong case for democracy, and the dangers of pandering to undemocratic institutions. Very few people could credibly write a book like this one, but Sharansky is one of these few. Yes, he may be too idealistic, but if you looks at world events, we would be better off following his guidance.
Honza Prchal
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rare is the book that makes me think I'm having a conversation with a particularly worldly rabbi -capable admitting fault and reverses while still cutting through all the ... nonsense. He treats other people as people ... not representations of some category to make himself feel better. Multi-culturalists will HATE it even more than cultural determinsits. This is such a book.
Will James
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An uncompromising book that fiercely champions the moral and practical imperatives in the expansion of democracy across the world. Sharansky passionately argues his cause, and 'The Case for Democracy' is a powerful product of a lifetime battling against totalitarianism and dictatorship. A fine book.
Dan Slimmon
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He makes some really good points, and despite his association with the Israeli Right he does seem to be legitimately dedicated to an idea rather than a party.

I'd be very happy to see the linkage of foreign policy to democratic reforms take root. I don't think Sharansky really has enough evidence to be so confident that it would work in Palestine, but the concept is strong.
Joe
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good treatment of how free societies, in the course of advocating for the widening of the scope of freedom, can turn authoritarian regimes tail and run, falling in on themselves. An inspiring advocate of the positive results that occur when civil society calmly asserts and defends itself.
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Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky (later Natan Sharanky) was born in Stalino, Soviet Union on January 20, 1948 to a Jewish family. He graduated with a degree in applied mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. As a child, he was a chess prodigy. He performed in simultaneous and blindfold displays, usually against adults. At the age of 15, he won the championship in his native Done ...more
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