Over the past century, the tremendous concentration of power in the modern state has frequently been a threat to the life and liberty of individuals and social groups. Liberal democracy seeks to harness state power to the causes of individual freedom and public benefit - through such means as constitutional limits on and separation of powers, free and regular elections, and the vigilance of citizens, parliaments and media. This collection of essays offers perspectives on the difficulties of establishing and sustaining a modern liberal democratic state. These themes are pursued through subjects ranging from the extreme abuses of power by Nazi regime to the misuse of power by executive government in the "WA Inc" years, from the quest for a genuinely republican Australia to the role of trust and suspicion in liberal democracy, from the alleged decline of the state in a globalizing world to the construction of a new state in East Timor, and from the importance of free scholarship to the role of deliberative polling in enhancing the democratic process. The late Patrick O'Brien, scholar, teacher, public intellectual and political activist, believed passionately in the importance of personal liberty and in the firm and transparent regulation of the exercise of power. This book celebrates O'Brien's life and intellectual engagements, and demonstrates the enduring importance of the key themes of his work.