Greg M. Romaneck
Children's LiteratureAt this moment in history over 62% of the world's human population live in nations with at least some trappings of democratic rule. This is an amazing turn of events when one considers that in 1900 there were no nations wherein all citizens had the right to vote in free elections. Not even such long-standing democracies as the United States and Great Britain allowed women to vote at that time. Now, a century later, democracy appears to be a vibrant political force in the world. Alex Woolf traces the evolution of democratic principles from their emergence in ancient Greece to the present day. This illustrated work is part of a series titled "Systems of Government." True to the series, the book is set up in a way that allows readers to finish it with a much firmer grasp of its subject matter. In this sound book, its author points out not only the strengths of democratic institutions but also the threats to them. Topics such as voter apathy, distrust of political agents, lobbying, and the pernicious impact of multi-national corporations all are factors that militate against the smooth functioning of democratic societies. Yet, as the author of this intelligent book documents, democracy appears to be a favored political choice for many people in this day and age. This is a worthwhile book and one that students of political science will appreciate. 2006, World Almanac Library, Ages 12 up.
Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 6-9-These titles describe four primary forms of government. Specific examples, both from large and small countries and from many periods in history, help to clarify the definitions and highlight the small differences that exist even among similar governments. Most importantly, the authors note throughout how governments have changed over time and the influences that have affected such change, Russia being an excellent example. Some inconsistencies and overlapping information are apparent in the four volumes, as both Dowswell and Grant discuss Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro in some depth, which could be confusing to students who might then equate communism with dictatorship. Woolf mentions Myanmar, which has a brutal dictatorship, as a "struggling democracy," but it is never discussed in Dowswell's book. These titles would be more useful as a single volume, thus eliminating any discrepancies. The writing is generally clear, but occasionally lapses into lengthy explanations become convoluted. Historical and contemporary photographs offer visual reference for specific people or points of interest, and small sidebars are particularly interesting and helpful.-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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