American democracy is, in many people's minds, the model for the rest of the world. Fareed Zakaria points out that the American form of democracy is one of the least democratic in use today. Members of the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve, institutions that fundamentally shape our lives, are appointed, not elected. The Bill of Rights enumerates a set of privileges to which citizens are entitled, no matter what the majority says. By restricting our democracy, we enhance our freedom.
©2003 Fareed Zakaria; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A work of tremendous originality and insight." (Washington Post)
"Thought-provoking and timely." (Publishers Weekly)
"A very thoughtful and intelligent book." (Peter Jennings)
"A provocative critique of political trends fast democratizing the entire globe." (Booklist)
First, it is a disappointment that Fareed Zakaria doesn't read this--he has an engaging voice. Regardless, this is an important, rich, thoughful and nuanced work. About the best quick preparation for understanding the roots of democracies and republics and the challenges we face on a global scale in making the case for 'our' form of government. Fascinating history, too!
It takes a while to get started but the background is necessary to understanding and appreciate the author's analysis of how the best of intentions to increase freedoms and political participation by more people have not gone as planned. The author offers some insight as to the problems sought to be corrected, what went wrong, and some ideas of what needs to be done. A very good book for those interested in the political processes taking place in America today
I won't bother to summarize. Listen to the book. I can't believe some of the other reviewers actually listened to this book. The author is very careful to define democracy and republic, and to distinguish between the different types of democracies. He emphasizes how constitutional safeguards to liberty are essential, and how "too much" democracy can undermine these. But don't rely on my feeble attempts to describe it. Listen to it. You'll be glad you did.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Fareed Zakaria published “The Future of Freedom” in 2003; a lot has happened since then. However, this Indian born, Yale and Harvard educated government policy wonk has written an interesting treatise on a glaring weakness of democracy that continues to resonate in 2014.
Zakaria believes the ideal of democracy, rule by the people with one-person-one-vote, distorts the founding principles of the original framers of the American Constitution. His compelling argument is that an unexpected consequence of sunshine, sunset, initiative referendum, and election campaign laws have changed the way elected officials represent their constituency by allowing lobbyists, population poling, and campaign financing, rather than individual conscience, determine legislative decision.
Opinion-poll-decision-making, and election financing are distorting the original framer's intent for government to be a representative balance of powers with three distinct branches that deliberatively guide legislative action. Democracy is in danger of dissolving into a chaos of unpredictability and dysfunction because our Republic has become too democratic.
Zakaria touches the themes of many books that have been critiqued in previous book reviews; i.e. beginning with an essay on the fiction of Charlotte Bronte in “A Woman of Substance”, 7/16/2011 and non –fiction reviews titled “Capitalism” (10/1/2011), “Occupy Wall Street” (11/2/2011), and "Wake up America".
Great arguements. Very relevant to the disfunction we are seeing today in many democracies. Very engaging style of writing.
Definitely not. Worst narrator I have ever heard. Could not even pronounce the author's name. Got several place names very wrong (such as Mumbai) and the occasional word too. Worst was IRA (the retirement plan)... "Ira [Hayes]". I listened to the book
This was an excellent study of what liberty is really about. Democracy does not ensure liberty and the author outlines the necessary elements to a successful LIBERAL Democracy.
This book ties-in so well with current events. Although the US attempt to create a democratic government in Iraq is not specifically covered, this book will definitely help clarify the challenges the US faces in attempting to create a "democratic Iraq". Of course, many other "current events" topics will come to mind as you listen to this fascinating book.
Excellent narrator... very interesting topics... I highly recommend this audio book.
An absolutely amazing book every American needs to read. Discussed is the difference between a democracy, a representative republic, and a constitutional republic. Why constitutions are good at defending individual freedoms and why democracy and majority rule (w/out a constitution) tend to degrade them.
It is not only a philosophical discussion; there is a historical and practical focus on how governments have implemented these principles across the globe with a strong focus on the U.S. It dives as deep as the referendum process allowing the people to directly pass and recall legislation in California and how that circumvention of the elected officials can lead to the mass pandering, ineffective government we have today.
One of the most interesting aspects was the economic statistical characteristics present when democratic governments fail or succeed.
One of my top 10 recommended reads.
The content of Mr. Zakaria's work is great but the reader is one of the worst I've heard to date. His over-emphasis on enunciation of every consonant and syllable of every word is distracting (particularly w/the word "democratic" which occurs frequently). He reads too slow and in a tone of voice that makes me feel like I'm back in Sunday school. I have to struggle to pay attention and NOT just want to turn it off, go buy the book, and read it myself! I would rather have listened to Mr Zakaria himself.
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