• The Decline and Rise of Democracy

  • A Global History from Antiquity to Today
  • By: David Stastavage
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (41 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Historical accounts of democracy's rise tend to focus on ancient Greece and pre-Renaissance Europe. The Decline and Rise of Democracy draws from global evidence to show that the story is much richer - democratic practices were present in many places at many other times. David Stasavage makes the case that understanding how and where these democracies flourished - and when and why they declined - can provide crucial information not just about the history of governance, but about the ways modern democracies work and where they could manifest in the future.  

Drawing from examples spanning several millennia, Stasavage first considers why states developed either democratic or autocratic styles of governance and argues that early democracy tended to develop in small places with a weak state and, counterintuitively, simple technologies. When central state institutions (such as a tax bureaucracy) were absent - as in medieval Europe - rulers needed consent from their populace to govern. When central institutions were strong - as in China or the Middle East - consent was less necessary and autocracy more likely. He then explores the transition from early to modern democracy, which first took shape in England and then the United States, illustrating that modern democracy arose as an effort to combine popular control with a strong state over a large territory.

©2020 Princeton University Press (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The Decline and Rise of Democracy

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Informative

The book is very informative, but seems to be unnecessarily long. I enjoyed learning about the proto-democracies, especially those in pre-columbian Americas. I also learned that I've been calling the Domesday Book by the wrong name.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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No Substitute for the Book

Fails to convey the vitality of scholarship in the book. The narratiion emphasizes the idea of liberalism with such force ("leader" is read throughout with an air of disdain) that the author's meaning gets overlooked.

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Not what I expected

This is not a history of the idea and practice of democracy. It is a very, very overly detailed correlation between the presence of various civilizing factors (farming, soil type, presence of writing, taxation) and what the author describes are early democracy. The latter is simply when citizens have some say about how they are governed, whether that be just being able to voice concerns to a "king" or similar leader. So it is really not about democracy per se. Unfortunately the author never really analyzes exactly what he means by democracy is any satisfying way.

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History of the world

The audiobook was mainly focused on the history of the world and facts that have occurred than on the rise and fall of democracies, but it was still educational.