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Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  27 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In 1989, the Cold War abruptly ended and it seemed as if the world was at last safe for democracy. But a spirit of uneasiness, discontent, and world-weariness soon arose and has persisted in Europe, in America, and elsewhere for two decades. To discern the meaning of this malaise we must investigate the nature of liberal democracy, says the author of this provocative book, ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 16th 2009 by Yale University Press
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Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this a four star rating, but I want to say that it is not an easy read. At times this can be very dry going. The book is written in a scholarly manner that lays out ideas in a detailed and incremental manner. The ideas in this book and their importance are undeniable, but you need to wade through a lot of examples and historical facts to get there. Now this isn't bad but it can take some staying power...I laid it aside more than once.

I was already familiar with the work of Tocqueville
...more
Douglas Wilson
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Rahe is fantastically learned, and writes cogently and well. The material is dense, but well worth wading through. If you want to know the historical lineage of our drift into administrative despotism, this is the book.
Amy
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Kevin Bywater
Really enjoyed this one. Would have preferred more analysis of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Tocqueville's work in contrast to our modern society. First 3/4ths of the book cover the political thought of those three, scholarly reading though not too dense. My recent background in the work of all three men helped. Not impossible for a beginner, though. When he compares - mainly Tocqueville 's - political writing to our current cultural predicament, certainly a strong position familiar to many on the ...more
Andy Biggs
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2010
Excellent. He lays a solid foundation in the first two thirds of the book. The last several chapters are hard hitting indictments on the welfare state.
Brent
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Dense, but worthwhile. Deepened my pessimism.
Frederick Dotolo
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book on the dangers that democracy hold for a society: the death of liberty by a thousand cuts from an overly administrative/centralizing state.
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Nathan
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book took considerable effort to read, but the effort was well-rewarded. Excellent!
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Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in Western Heritage and professor of history at Hillsdale College. His previous books include the seminal three-volume work Republics Ancient and Modern. Rahe lives in Hillsdale, MI.
More about Paul Anthony Rahe...

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