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The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20th Century [Paperback]

Samuel P. Huntington
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 15 1993 The Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture Series (Book 4)

Between 1974 and 1990 more than thirty countries in southern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe shifted from authoritarian to democratic systems of government. This global democratic revolution is probably the most important political trend in the late twentieth century. In The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington analyzes the causes and nature of these democratic transitions, evaluates the prospects for stability of the new democracies, and explores the possibility of more countries becoming democratic. The recent transitions, he argues, are the third major wave of democratization in the modem world. Each of the two previous waves was followed by a reverse wave in which some countries shifted back to authoritarian government. Using concrete examples, empirical evidence, and insightful analysis, Huntington provides neither a theory nor a history of the third wave, but an explanation of why and how it occurred.

Factors responsible for the democratic trend include the legitimacy dilemmas of authoritarian regimes; economic and social development; the changed role of the Catholic Church; the impact of the United States, the European Community, and the Soviet Union; and the "snowballing" phenomenon: change in one country stimulating change in others. Five key elite groups within and outside the nondemocratic regime played roles in shaping the various ways democratization occurred. Compromise was key to all democratizations, and elections and nonviolent tactics also were central. New democracies must deal with the "torturer problem" and the "praetorian problem" and attempt to develop democratic values and processes. Disillusionment with democracy, Huntington argues, is necessary to consolidating democracy. He concludes the book with an analysis of the political, economic, and cultural factors that will decide whether or not the third wave continues.

Several "Guidelines for Democratizers" offer specific, practical suggestions for initiating and carrying out reform. Huntington's emphasis on practical application makes this book a valuable tool for anyone engaged in the democratization process. At this volatile time in history, Huntington's assessment of the processes of democratization is indispensable to understanding the future of democracy in the world.

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About the Author

Samuel P. Huntington (1927-2008) was the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard and former chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He authored many books on comparative politics and military affairs and served as Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council. He is a founder of the journal Foreign Policy and a former president of the American Political Science Association.

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First Sentence
THE THIRD WAVE OF DEMOCRATIZATION in the modern world began, implausibly and unwittingly, at twenty-five minutes after midnight, Thursday, April 25, 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, when a radio station played the song "Grandola Vila Morena." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
While not as heavily theoretical as some of Huntington's other works, this book is laden with apercus about why and how countries develop democracies, especially in the most recent wave (just to clarify, the first wave started in the early 1800's, the second occurred after World War II, and the third began in 1974 and included the countries liberated by the end of communism in the late 1980's.) The success of democratization is tied to various factors - the type and strength of the authoritarian regime that is facing this choice, its willingness to permit democratization, the strength of the movement that seeks to democratize, and that country's conditions (i.e. has it attempted to democratize before? How does religion affect the culture of that country?) Huntington's genius is to look at scores of seemingly disparate cases and discern patterns where democratization succeeds and fails.
An interesting side note is Huntington's analysis of why countries democratize. Each wave had its own conditions, but several variables merit mentioning. As a country industrializes, it becomes increasingly difficult for an authoritarian regime to maintain its monopoly on power, which becomes more diffused. Industrialization also fosters the growth of a questioning middle class that becomes more vocal as its wealth increases (not to mention a vibrant working class that is also a vital force for democracy, as Rueschemeyer, Stephens, and Stephens note in Capitalist Development and Democracy.) In addition, authoritarian regimes inevitably weaken over time as they fail to meet expectations and public dissatisfaction increases; they also become stale and are usually incapable of renewing themselves. They eventually lose legitimacy as the coalition of interests that supports them begins to splinter. Just a few more headaches for Jiang Jemin and his crew.
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I had to read this book for a class and I really got a great background in democracy in developing countries. Well written and informative.
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