Democracy (Groundwork Guides Series)

Democracy (Groundwork Guides Series)

by James Laxer
     
 

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"[The Groundwork Guides] are excellent books, mandatory for school libraries and the increasing body of young people prepared to take ownership of the situations and problems previous generations have left them." -- Globe and Mail

In this eye-opening work, political scientist and award-winning author James Laxer warns readers that

Overview

"[The Groundwork Guides] are excellent books, mandatory for school libraries and the increasing body of young people prepared to take ownership of the situations and problems previous generations have left them." -- Globe and Mail

In this eye-opening work, political scientist and award-winning author James Laxer warns readers that our common assumptions about democracy -- that it is a natural progression of advanced societies and that it is on the rise worldwide -- are misguided. Democracy, in fact, is very fragile.

Showcasing examples from all over the world, this book explains the rise of democracy in the twentieth century and examines the current status of democracy in advanced countries and in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Laxer warns that globalization and the widening gap between the rich and poor threaten to weaken democracy and the vigor of democratic regimes -- even in countries where it has been long established.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather N. Kolich
This "Groundwork Guide" traces the spread of democracy from its roots in fifth Century B.C. Athens to threats it faces now, such as globalization and industrial manipulation. The rambles through history are interesting, but U.S. readers could find Laxer's viewpoint on democracy confusing and occasionally antithetical. For example, he states that the "privatization of state-owned companies and the deregulation of economic activity" over the past several decades is one of the reasons democracy is imperiled; however, some believe that the opposite is currently happening in the U.S. Many Americans view government take-over of businesses and regulation of earnings as threatening to democracy. More troubling are incorrect statements about U.S. history, such as the assertion that President Bill Clinton granted amnesty to Vietnam War draft dodgers in 1994. While Clinton used his last day in office in 2001 to grant an unprecedented 140 Presidential pardons, it was Jimmy Carter who pardoned the Vietnam draft dodgers on his first full day in office in 1977. There are several crimes of omission or inference, including failure to mention Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the chapter "Democracy and the Demise of the Soviet Union;" stating that "Israeli democracy applies only to Israelis," as if it should extend to non-citizens living outside the borders of the nation, including those whose mission is to destroy the only democratic nation in the Middle East; ignoring the role of the September eleventh terrorist attacks and other violence against Western countries in the decision to go to war against the government of Iraq; claiming that the "issue of inequality" between high-earners andlow-earners precipitated the global economic collapse of 2008 to the present without mentioning that the efforts of several democratic governments to engineer socio-economic equality are largely responsible for the crisis; and confusing the democratic principle of equality of opportunity with equality of outcome, one of several failed Communist principles. Reviewer: Heather N. Kolich
Kirkus Reviews
The latest volume in the Groundwork Guides series offers a fascinating and concise overview of democracy from ancient Greece and Rome through the American and French Revolutions and on through modern movements for democracy in the developing world. Laxer's premise is that "democracy is in peril today in the wealthy countries" because it's morphing into plutocracy, a system in which politics is unduly controlled by money. The future of democracy depends, as it always has, on the struggle to narrow the gap between the rich and poor and the struggles for education, health care, employment, a cleaner environment and containment of war. Though the prose is windy and wordy at times, it covers much ground and is always rooted in specific details and examples, with sidebars that add extra dimensions to the discussion. This will work best with a high-school audience already well versed in American and world history and ready for a treatment that makes compelling connections. (timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554980123
Publisher:
Groundwood Books Ltd
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Series:
Groundwork Guides Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

JAMES LAXER is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including the #1 national bestseller Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812, Stalking an Elephant: My Discovery of America (published by the New Press in New York as Discovering America), and The Border: Canada, the U.S., and Dispatches from the Forty-Ninth Parallel. He is a professor of political science in the Department of Equity Studies at York University. He lives in Toronto.


Jane Springer is the author of Genocide, part of the Groundwork Guides series for which she is also the series editor. She is a consultant in international development and has lived and worked in Mozambique and India. She is the author of Listen to Us: The World's Working Children and translator of the Portuguese-language books Nest Egg and Tales from the Amazon. Jane Springer lives in Toronto.

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