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Paperback The Future of Freedom : Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad Book

ISBN: 0393324877

ISBN13: 9780393324877

The Future of Freedom : Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad

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Book Overview

A modern classic that uses historical analysis to shed light on the present, The Future of Freedom is, as the Chicago Tribune put it, "essential reading for anyone worried about the promotion and preservation of liberty." Hailed by the New York Times as "brave and ambitious...updated Tocqueville," it enjoyed extended stays on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller lists and has been translated into eighteen languages...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A fascinating, easy-to-read and highly educational book.

This is a fantastic book. If you like international affairs, you will love it. I cannot recommend this highly enough, especially for anyone interested in geopolitical affairs and foreign policy. The book is written with the touch of a fine journalist. It is at once a breeze to read and highly informative. Zakaria fills the book with interesting research that makes the reader feel as if he or she were participating in an advanced course on globalization, except this class is all fun. There is none of the boring homework or dreary academic reading often associated with political science courses. With a Ph.D. from Harvard, Zakaria is a scholar, but he does not write like your typical academic. His style is easy going and clear, which makes his exceptionally interesting content easier to digest.The content varies from theories about democratic development to the history of the Catholic Church and its role in the formation of individual liberties. You will learn about why oil-rich nations like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia face difficult paths on the road to democracy. You will also learn about how popular referendums in California may have created more problems than they have solved in that state.Is it possible to give too much power to the people? Can an autocratic leader be good for a nation? Why do political liberties differ so much from Sinapore to Egypt to the UK?Zakaria explores these and other questions in this fascinating book. Read it and you will be wiser because of it.

An absolutely fascinating book!

In this fascinating book, author Fareed Zakaria looks at liberty and democracy. In the popular imagination, liberty and democracy go hand-in-hand, with more democracy meaning more freedom and vice versa. But, since the fall of the Soviet Union, the spread of democracy around the world has often resulted in "illiberal democracy," where fanatical groups vote in leaders that use the power of the state against other groups, or even the election of a radical regime that effectively does away with substantive democracy.Following the history of the West (and particularly the Anglo-American part) from the Roman Empire to today, Dr. Zakaria shows that Western History followed a course, where enlightened despotism led to respect for the law, to transparency and balancing of power within government, to capitalism, and finally to restricted democracy (elected representatives instead of direct democracy, unelected judges, a constitution that the government could not violate in spite of overwhelming majority approval, and so forth).But, in the modern West, unfettered democracy has become the newly enthroned ideal, and is being spread to the rest of the world, where it is producing some successes, and some dismal failures. Indeed, one has only to look at the present recall election in California to see what it is doing in the United States. As an added bonus, the author clearly focusing in on recent trends with in India, the Islamic world, and other parts of the world.This is an absolutely fascinating book. I have always heard the Founding Fathers of the United States disparaged for their fear of unfettered democracy and a potential tyranny of the majority, but this book puts into concrete terms that which those men feared. While his solutions are somewhat nebulous, I did find Dr. Zaakaria's analysis to be highly thought provoking. If you are interested in examining what has happened to democracy in the modern world, then I highly recommend this book to you.

The Real Challenge of the Twenty-First Century

I only became of Dr. Zakaria recently, when I read a piece he wrote called "The Arrogant Empire," a incisive piece on the hubristic and messianic foreign policy of the Bush Administration. After a little research I quickly discovered that Dr. Zakaria is some kind of foreign-policy wunderkind, who became an editor of the presitigious magazine Foreign Affairs at the age of twenty-eight. This book clearly demonstrates that his precipitious climb to the top of the intelletual heap of America is certainly well-deserved. This book is a remarkable guide to the major challenges, both foreign and domestic, that face America in the twenty-first century. The thesis of this book is essentially that too much democratization and decentralization, two notions that are often hailed as universally good, can be disasterous. This argument is not new, as Dr. Zakaria readily admits. What is new is the contextualization of these problems to the modern world.The author brilliantly analyzes both foreign and domestic policy through the prism of what he calls "Illiberal Democracy." The analysis is both lucid and cogent, and it is remarkable how much insight exists on every page. Dr. Zakaria is a polymath with prodigious analytical ability, and, as a result, both knowledge and sagacity ooze off the page.The book ranges from topic to topic, yet still remains coherent. Dr. Zakaria ranges from topics such as Islamic Fundamentalism, to the decline of Congressional presitige on the national political stage, to the virtual disintigration of good governence in the state of California. Despite his reputation as a foreign policy maven, his analysis of domestic affairs is also brilliant:"The deregulation of democracy has gone too far ... although [sic] none would dare speak ill of present-day democracy, most people instinctively sense a problem ... More intriguingly, in poll after poll, when Americans are asked what public institutions they most respect, three bodies are always at the top of their list: the Supreme Court, the armed forces, and the Federal Reserve. All three have one thing in common: they are insulated from public pressures and operate undemocratically."One aspect of this book that might grate on American sensibilities is the unabashedly proelite stance this book takes. It serves as almost a rallying cry to the elite to save the institutions that save the commoners from themselves. Although that description may be overexaggerated, undoubtedly this book laments for the halcyon days of a socially-responsible elite in America. However, in the end a lot of this analysis seems correct.Despite this slight misgiving, this is a brilliant book that provides an intellectual framework for many of problems facing Americans in the twenty-first century, ranging from the scourge of mass terrorism to the cultural malaise here at home. *****

This year's "must read" by the new Walter Lippmann

Along with Tom Friedman, Zakaria is one of the country's top foreign affairs columnists. Unlike Friedman's "Longitudes and Attitudes," however, this book isn't just a rehash of old columns. It's a fascinating look at the past, present, and future of democracy, here in the States and all over the world. The book is essential reading, for example, for anybody interested in the Bush administration's attempt to "democratize" Iraq. Basically, Zakaria argues that although we take the concept of "liberal democracy" for granted, in fact the two components of it have not always gone together. "Constitutional liberalism" is responsible for a lot of the good things we like (rule of law, protection of human rights, etc.), but it hasn't always been associated with democracy. Democracy, meanwhile--rule by a popular majority--isn't always or necessarily connnected to liberalism. With these ideas in mind, the author covers an incredible amount of ground, both historically and geographically. And he writes amazingly well, so every page is not just filled with interesting information, but is also lively and fun. This is that rare kind of "big" book, in other words, that people not only talk about, but enjoy reading. If you liked Fukuyama, Huntington, Bernard Lewis, and stuff like that, you'll just love Zakaria...

The Future of a New Political Discourse

America has been fortunate in the last fifty years to have had brilliant authors plotting both the possible and plausible courses of her foreign policy. There are few seminal works though - ones that somehow palpably alter the structures within which everything we consider must necessarily be examined. After Sir Winston's Churchill's warnings of an Iron Curtain descending across Europe, we were given the equally prophetic George F. Kennan who wrote his famous article in Foreign Affairs. As the decades clicked by and liberal democracy seemed to progress unchecked, Francis Fukuyama presented his "The End of History and the Last Man." Another decade sped by, and as globalization and interdependence became the focus for international theory academics, pundits, and practitioners alike, Samuel P. Huntington alerted the world to another problem in his "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" (again first printed in Foreign Affairs). More recently we've been given Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise and Power," which, while it certainly puts the trans-Atlantic relationship in perspective for us, the world remains a bit hazy. This is especially true if one considers that neither Huntington nor Fukuyama has been unequivocally disproved; and hence, the world seems all the more complex. Hence, Fareed Zakaria arrives on the doorstep of our minds, and like those before him, offers his book as a substitute for a crystal ball. Indeed, Dr. Zakaria has received favorable reviews by Huntington, which accurately note that this is a study that hasn't been articulated since Aristotle and Tocqueville. The major premise is this: unregulated democracy undermines liberty and the rule of law. There are a plethora of parallels to be drawn from this domestically (e.g. Benjamin Barber and Don Eberly), or internationally (e.g. Robert Kaplan, Robert Keegan, etc). "The Future of Freedom" will prove to be a profoundly troubling book for those who believe democracy flourishes anywhere it is planted or whatever culture it is grafted onto, and for those who believe democracy is synonymous with freedom. This is a very old argument, one that finds itself centered in political philosophy, and Zakaria's book is all the more important because of its timeliness, and because, even as it is an old argument, it is one that has never reconciled the individual with society, or freedom with duty. This book will be important to the student especially - whether they read it or not, it will shape the discussions and debates they engage in. They would be better prepared by understanding it. Academics, though many verge on becoming synonymous with abstract and impractical philologasters, will likely also find it the counter-weight to their own, more liberal ideas. Policy makers should read it because I can only presume that it will inform closed-door discussions on whether illiberal democracy abroad is better than no democracy at all. Many books inform us as to where we h
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