Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Of democracy

"Chance shows us two road in life; one is the road of freedom, which has a rough beginning that is hard to walk, but and ending that is smooth and even; the other is the road of servitude, which has a level beginning, but an ending that is hard and dangerous." - Aesop, as quoted by Paul Woodruff in First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea

Really, that's an excellent (and timely) book. A glowing review can be read here. From the intro of the review

Democracy may be one of the most radical political concepts in the history of humanity — and it continues to be radical even today in part because it hasn’t been fully, successfully realized. In many ways, ancient Athenian democracy fell far short of its own principles of democracy, but in other ways it was ahead of the democratic systems we have today. By understanding both the failings and successes of that First Democracy, we may be able to improve our own democratic experiment for the benefit of all.

This is the basic goal of Paul Woodruff’s book First Democracy: The Challenge Of An Ancient Idea. Woodruff previously wrote the short but excellent book Reverence, one of the best books I’ve ever reviewed here, and he does just as well with First Democracy, a relatively short work that is easy to read, accessible to the average person, but also filled with fascinating information and challenging ideas. Woodruff makes you think, question, and take a step back from common assumptions in a manner that is really enjoyable to read.
Almost the entire book, it seems, can be read on-line at Google books. Here's the link.

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