Cover Image: The Shortest History of Democracy

The Shortest History of Democracy

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Member Reviews

The Shortest History series is the opposite of the Object Lessons Series. Objects Lessons takes a very narrow topic and, in a very short book, drills down into it often including an element of memoir or gonzo journalism. The Shortest History series cover really large topics, in relatively short volumes. In this case short is 277 pages. I really struggled to engage with this book, but I don't know if it was the broadness of the topic, my attention span this winter, or that the review book was only available through the NetGalley app - not able to be read on Kindle. I would not have requested it if I have realised that, since I really don't read well on my tablet. Which is all to say that I didn't finish it, but I don't really think it's the book's fault. 

i was given this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I did not enjoy this book. I found the writing to be academic, not conversational. I would also describe the mood it set as flat. Sometimes the content was too detailed. I almost stopped reading a couple of times but tried to stick with it. But as the book neared the end it became ever more tiresome and I ended up not finishing. This is disappointing as I read “The shortest history …” books about China and about England and rated them as 5 star and 4 star, respectively. Thank you to Netgalley and The Experiment for the advance reader copy
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The Shortest History of Democracy by John Keane is a short but concise history that goes into more depth than one might expect.

This little volume does more than just give a history, it also highlights the fact that democracy is not guaranteed to survive. In fact, it is through seeing how democracy has changed and evolved over the years, even at times into less desirable forms, that offers hope for its future. At turns uplifting and disconcerting, we are ultimately left with some hope even if it might seem like dark days indeed.

My favorite section was his explanation and analysis of monitory democracy. Keane offers some perspective that, while perhaps isn't new, is too often ignored or overlooked. But more than anything, even though this is a history, it is one that has an eye on the future and what that future might be. It is up to us to learn and start doing what we must to create the type of democracy we want.

Highly recommended for those wanting a brief history as well as those who want a big picture refresher to help them gain some grounded perspective on current events.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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In a short amount of space, John Keane is able to provide a detailed and nuanced history of different types of democracies and their strengths and weaknesses. Even more impressively, he is able to generate some pretty strong arguments that both dispel the myth that Greece created democracy along with the role of representative democracy and the future of democratic states. This might be too detailed as a primer for the subject, but if you want a short and well researched book on the topic, I would definitely recommend this book.
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Short but by no means sparing in insights, research and analysis!  This is a really useful history which is only too relevant as we see democracy challenged across the globe,  I found the writing style very clear and pitched at a level which will suit all readers interested in this topic.
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