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Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government Hardcover – Feb 4 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 5 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300175388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300175387
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #377,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Think democracy’s the up-and-coming thing in the developing world? This book may shatter more than few illusions of free markets and polities.”—Kirkus Reviews 
(Kirkus Reviews)

"Any member of Congress who refuses to compromise on the budget sequester. . . should be given this mandatory assignment: Read Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government."—Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer 
(Trudy Rubin Philadelphia Inquirer)

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2013
(Wall Street Journal)

A Business Week Best Book of 2013
(Business Week)

Book Description

This thought-provoking book addresses a set of new and disturbing trends: democracies around the world are losing ground, middle class support of democracy has waned, and autocracies are on the rise.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa3f5dab0) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3c709e4) out of 5 stars Disappointment in Democracy April 26 2014
By Gridley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Democracy In Retreat:The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government, by Joshua Kurlantzick

This is more of a treatise than a piece of literary nonfiction, and as with most such pieces of writing, the overlong title virtually tells the story. The author has done an admirable job of collecting data and anecdotes to support his thesis here, which is one of high hopes dashed.

The U.S., he writes, has been the primary nation actively trying to export democracy, and perhaps too over zealous in doing so. His concern isn’t our misadventures in Vietnam, South America and more recently, Iraq. Instead, it’s our more peaceful efforts to create democracies around the world. However, there has been all too much emphasis on the various electoral processes in doing so, and too little emphasis on policies, including the educational, to support permanent democratic reform. As a result, many democracies of the twentieth century have failed,returning to oligarchies, dictatorships, or other, more repressive forms of representative government.

The poor, of course, have borne the primary disappointments here, but in many countries, the middle classes have become disenchanted with the democratic process. In all too many cases, upsetting the status quo has shrunken and disturbed the middle classes, which were both part of the ladder of societal ascendance and a buffer between poor and risk, disenfranchised and powerful. Much of the frustration here has been that more repressive societies, such as China, seem to achieve economic success while many democratic countries founder economically due to the decision-making inefficiencies of most democratic states.

To this reader, the author spends too much time citing one case history after another and too little trying to map our way of his quagmire. Still he does a service in tacitly insisting that perhaps democracy is a product of social evolution - little more than a mere accident in the establishment of the U.S.

My rating: 15 of 20 stars
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3c73e1c) out of 5 stars The book I wanted to write April 24 2013
By D. Cross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent and far-reaching evaluation of newly democratizing countries, and the problems they encounter. Ultimately I think the question is, is "Western-style democracy" right for everywhere? And the answer has to be, only if conditions are the same everywhere, which they aren't. Very accessibly written and compelling argument.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3c70c48) out of 5 stars A Look at Democracy in Retreat Dec 18 2013
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joshua Kurlantzick offers a fascinating look at the state of democracy throughout the world and offers some interesting perspectives on why he believes it is in retreat. Pointing to a very unlikely culprit, Kurlantzick goes into great detail and offers a very unique grasp on almost every region of the world with case studies to back up his claims. Malawi, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela, among others, become interesting venues where the author exposes the current crises faced by each country and how these specific crises can impact the state of democracy. With all the unrest now in Thailand and Ukraine that we are now witnessing Kurlantzick's book becomes even more interesting. A very good read and extremely informative.
HASH(0xa3c73a44) out of 5 stars Five Stars March 30 2015
By Juan Velasquez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Excellent evaluation of unexpected results in this millenium. Not very promising future for democracy
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3a98ec4) out of 5 stars great book Aug. 30 2013
By I. E. Victoria - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very timely book on foreign affairs. Reads somewhat like a research paper. I recommend to anyone interested in the health of modern Democracies.