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On Democracy

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A New York Times Book Review New & Noteworthy Title

A collection of essays, letters and poems from E.B. White, “one of the country’s great literary treasures” (New York Times), centered on the subject of freedom and democracy in America.

“I am a member of a party of one, and I live in an age of fear.”

These words were written by E. B. White in 1947.

Decades before our current
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Harper
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Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
These essays are as relevant today as when they were written, primarily during the period between the 1930s and the 1960s. The issues that they address with respect to fascism and nativism leading to the Second World War, how to win the hearts and minds of allies, McCarthyism, the Cold War and related subjects mirror today’s current events and the ongoing divide and populism that threaten to undermine and possibly destroy our democracy.
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
White was an exceptional writer -- thoughtful, clever, witty, and able to drive home his point in a reasonable yet effective manner. This is a nice collection of his writings on democracy, but those readers unaware of the themes and players in American and world history from the 1920's through the 1960's are going to be at a disadvantage reading them. This little volume would have benefited from the addition of a short paragraph at the beginning of each writing explaining the historical context.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Any book that includes "Bedfellows," one of the best essays ever written on the American experiment (and dachshunds), is a must-read. This book, featuring essays and commentaries that were written 50 years ago and more, is designed to serve as a commentary on our current state of affairs. In that regard, it rarely disappoints. Indeed, White somehow anticipated so many of the issues currently at the forefront of our daily concerns about the survival of our democracy. A welcome addition to any E.B ...more
Jennifer Fitzpatrick
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time.”
E B White’s small tome, On Democracy, is as pertinent today as when each essay was written. This collection of essays, poems and letters, edited by his granddaughter Martha, spans the era from the late ‘20s to the late ‘70s. While reading the beautiful prose and thoughtfully advanced ideas on liberty, government and the free press, I could imagine sitting around the kitchen table discussing current events with Mr. White. This book is an exce
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to give a copy of this book to everyone I know!
Jan 26, 2020 added it
Recommends it for: Ron Charles

E.B. White Spoke to His Time – and Ours

Today’s divisive, clamorous politics and President Trump himself offer abundant reason to read these essays, some more than 75 years old, today. In his introduction to the book, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jon Meacham calls President Trump an “opportunistic real estate and reality TV showman.”

Read my review of On Democracy in the
Portland Press Herald
Don Gorman
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
(3 1/2). I have to mark this little book up to 4 stars for its importance, as well as its literary worth. White’s outlook on Democracy, government, the world, and especially war is very needed in these divisive times. He explains his version of the real cornerstones for the preservation of society as Americans know and understand it. I am concerned that many today would call him a fanatical liberal but I say they are not trying to understand what he is saying. Compromise, negotiation and defendi ...more
John Pehle
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
In essays spanning nearly fifty years, White explores democracy and his complicated relationship with it. Some, including the last entry from the the date of the Bicentennial of the U.S.A., address issues so familiar that you could believe that they were written last week. As always, White’s writing is clever and pointed (in a meandering sort of way). This is a reminiscence and an exploration well worth taking.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m glad I read it. This is a beautiful collection of mostly small pieces written by E. B. White over the years about the Red Scare, democracy, the freedom of the press, fear, the nature of the world and human beings. These pieces are extraordinary and timely for today. I will come back to his rich mine of wisdom and beautiful writing.
Gayle Turner
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
E. B. White was a wise man. I encourage you to sit with this collection of his essays. Don't rush through them they're worth ruminating on.

I particularly liked his letter to the Bangor Daily News dated October 8,1964 entitled "Democracy is Destructible."

As I write this I realize it was 55 years ago today and it could not be more timely.

Mr. White's voice is one for the ages.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical

In times as fraught as these, it is reassuring to take a look back at where we came from, at a time when patriotism was not overrun with nationalism, and decency and fair play were shared values rather than aberrations. And to immerse oneself in the clear, lucid, graceful prose of an American master.
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, politics, religion
I picked this up because my writing is suffering terribly from 2.5 years of law school and reading Les Mis. I needed an antidote of writing so clear and succinct that the writer has no room to hide lazy thinking or compromised morals. This delivered admirably.

Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
These essays were really witty and whimsical and funny in parts. These essays were a great reflection of then n now.
Frank Farrell
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great writer on a great subject

May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 Brilliant, witty, humorous, but also cogent. We could use a few Whites and Thurbers to usher us through the latest threat to American democracy.
Erin Brenner
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A succinct collection of ideas on democracy that span nearly 50 years, all in White's distinct style. It offers a lot of food for thought and is sometimes eerily predictive.
John Machata
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well worthy of a read- pertinent to today's America.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A side of E.B. White you may not have known...
Jim Willse
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What would EB White make of the times we are in? I think we know. I suspect he'd be so upset that words would fail even one of the most accomplished and honorable essayists of our time.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book-timeless!
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: WSJ
While I didn't agree with all of his comments, I enjoyed his reasoning and his prose. An amazing number of his articles could be published today and apply to our current conditions. WELL worth reading!
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Aug 01, 2019
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Dec 06, 2019
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Mar 05, 2019
rated it it was ok
Jan 12, 2020
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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children's classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to t ...more

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