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The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror [Kindle Edition]

Natan Sharansky , Ron Dermer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to stand in the middle of a town square and express one's views without fear of imprisonment. He should know. A dissident in the USSR, Sharansky was jailed for nine years for challenging Soviet policies. During that time he reinforced his moral conviction that democracy is essential to both protecting human rights and maintaining global peace and security.

Sharansky was catapulted onto the Israeli political stage in 1996. In the last eight years, he has served as a minister in four different Israeli cabinets, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister, playing a key role in government decision making from the peace negotiations at Wye to the war against Palestinian terror. In his views, he has been as consistent as he has been stubborn: Tyranny, whether in the Soviet Union or the Middle East, must always be made to bow before democracy.

Drawing on a lifetime of experience of democracy and its absence, Sharansky believes that only democracy can safeguard the well-being of societies. For Sharansky, when it comes to democracy, politics is not a matter of left and right, but right and wrong.

This is a passionately argued book from a man who carries supreme moral authority to make the case he does here: that the spread of democracy everywhere is not only possible, but also essential to the survival of our civilization. His argument is sure to stir controversy on all sides; this is arguably the great issue of our times.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on his autobiography—from Soviet refusenik to Israeli cabinet minister – Sharansky distinguishes between "fear" and "free" societies. He spends a significant amount of time taking on conservative "realists" who prize stability in international relations, as well as liberals who he says fail to distinguish between flawed democracies that struggle to implement human rights and authoritarian or totalitarian states that flout human rights as a matter of course. Sharansky criticizes those who argue that democracy is culturally contingent and therefore unsuited for Muslim societies. Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he mentions documented Israeli human rights abuses, but places the bulk of the blame for the conflict on the dictatorial systems prevalent in Arab societies. He also weighs in on the vexing subject of how to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from the "new anti-Semitism." Such criticism must pass the "3D" test of "[no] demonization, double standards, or delegitimation." Sharansky does not grapple deeply with the current situation in Iraq, but his opinions throughout, honed through years in a Soviet prison and in the corridors of power, feel earned.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"I felt like his book confirmed what I believe." -- President George W. Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 421 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1586483544
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (February 23, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P9XDGQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,218 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Freedom December 23, 2004
Natan Sharansky, a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, was the English translator for, and English instructor of, the great Russian physicist, Andre Sakharov. The book is dedicated to Sakharov, "A man who proved that with moral clarity and courage, we can change the world" and who said "Regimes that do not respect the rights of their own people will not respect the rights of their neighbors."

Sharansky spent 9 years in Soviet prison and used this time to reflect on the mechanics of tyranny and how such tyranny might be overthrown. He never gave up hope that the Soviet Union would be dismantled. To keep his mind active he played chess in his head-and never lost a match.

At the time of Stalin there were no known dissidents in the Soviet Union simply because the price for dissent was death. With Stalin's death and with successive, slightly more "liberal" regimes, the price for dissent became long prison terms. This allowed several hundred dissidents to emerge, who were willing to risk prison to speak out. Many of these were Soviet Jews seeking to immigrate to the U.S. or Israel; Sharansky was one of these; recall that at that time, no Soviet citizens were allowed to emigrate from the country.

Sharansky divides the populace of a dictatorship into three classes: true believers of the regime, double-thinkers, and dissidents. True believers are usually part of the regime and have a stake in its survival; double-thinkers, which make up the great bulk of the populace, don't agree with the administration but are afraid to speak up; dissidents represent the minority willing to risk job and family to disagree with the regime.
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50 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing Us Through Soviet Eyes November 22, 2004
Freedom, sharansky and Dermer proclaim, is rooted in the right to dissent, to walk into the town square and declare one's views without fear of punishment or reprisal. This they say is the basic right, and societies that do not protect that right can never be reliable partners for peace, and that the democracy that hates is much safer than the dictatorship that loves us.

While there is every reason to doubt that freedom will prevail in the Middle East, this book declares unequivocally that the skeptics are wrong. They the believe that tyranny can be consigned to history's dustbin if the free world stays true to its ideals.

Sometimes I think it takes someone who has lived under a regime like the Soviet Union to remind us of what we have. It's not the false promises made by both Kerry and Bush during the last election, it's that we could have such an election at all.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Believe December 10, 2004
In Sharansky's book I found the words to express the truth I always instinctively believed: that the vast majority of people love truth and freedom, that freedom is always a better choice than tyranny, and that it is not enough to safeguard our own freedoms if we tolerate tyrants along our borders.

THE CASE FOR DEMOCRACY outlines clearly and powerfully the link between freedom and peace/security, tyranny and terror/aggression.

Today our world is caught in a major struggle; it's all around us. I do not consider an exaggeration to call our current stuggle World War III. It's a necessary battle between freedom and tyranny, democracies and dictatorships. Sharansky explains that freedom is always a winning hand unless we agree to morally equalize the good with the bad, the lies with the truth, and to make treaties and compromises with tyrants.

A major premise of Sharansky's: get rid of the stubborn notion that we can do business with tyrants. They can never be trusted and are only interested in one thing: their own survival. They're inherently corrupt and will do anything to stay in power including making innumerable promises they never intend to keep all the while committing stunning atrocities against humankind.

This book describes it all in the context of history, a history that outlines the world's experience of tyranny and freedom over the past fifty years.

I will always be grateful to Mr. Sharansky for this great work.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharansky -- The perfect chess player November 24, 2004
Natan Sharansky has shown keen insight in this new book into understanding the realities behind the various Middle East and world conflicts. He is a true believer in freedom. He has seen in the past, how, by giving people a taste of freedom their appetites are whetted for more. He proposes applying these same insights that toppled the USSR to the rest of the world.

George W. Bush is reading this book, Condaleza Rice is reading this book. It is a must read for anyone who wants an understanding into Bush's foreign policy for the next four years.
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180 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Democracy's great strength lies in peace November 13, 2004
Sharansky worked as an English interpreter for the great Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. He spent 13 years in a Soviet gulag, often in isolation for months at a time.

For anyone who thinks he is nothing more than a bible-thumping right-wingnut, maybe this statement will shed more light on his character:

"Appeasement is a powerful side effect of democracy. The West's appeasement policy toward the Soviet Union began almost the moment its appeasement policy toward Nazi Germany ended. It didn't end until Ronald Reagan. Democratic leaders need peace to survive. Because democracies have to reflect the will of their people, democratic leaders choose appeasement because anything is preferable to war. Free peoples go to war only when they have no other choice. By the way, this is democracy's great strength as well as its great weakness. Democracies are both so free, so stable, and so prosperous because their people don't want war. Therefore, Western leaders were only continuing in this tradition by believing that the Soviet Union needed to be transformed from a deadly rival into a partner for cooperation. Even President Carter, who understood human rights better than any president before him, always chose to appease the Soviet Union rather than to force it to compete with the West."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very revelant to today's foreign policy debate. Humans are ...
Very revelant to today's foreign policy debate. Humans are basically the same around the world; they innately strive for freedom. Read more
Published 18 days ago by C. Bruce Cornett
5.0 out of 5 stars opinon of an expert
Having met and listen to Natan Sharansky, I found his book to be interesting, informative, and somewhat scary. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Irv Blank
5.0 out of 5 stars The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and...
I had the honor of photographing Natan Sharansky, and sat in wonderment of his strength and resolve in overcoming the harshness of Soviet rule. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Susan J. Harris
1.0 out of 5 stars All the right conclusions with all the worst examples
Rare is the book that is personally recommended by a sitting President of the USA. This is one of them, and for that reason alone, deserves to be read by the masses. Read more
Published on July 25, 2011 by Newton Ooi
5.0 out of 5 stars The Case For Democracy
I teach college English, and for my critical thinking and reading clasees, this books ranks as one of the best--
in terms of giving the readers an understanding of the... Read more
Published on May 31, 2011 by GORDON H ROBERTSON
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend!
This is an interesting book to read, especially in the wake of the current protests in the middle-east. Read more
Published on February 24, 2011 by Jane N. Kambalame
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching
There are moments that will bring tears to your eyes and others that will inflame you to anger. It's amazing we keep making the same mistakes with dictators time and time again. Read more
Published on October 13, 2010 by Troy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent synopsis of what's wrong with the world
I picked this book up in the bargain bin, but having read it, would have considered it a good buy at full price. Read more
Published on May 6, 2010 by SeaDuck
5.0 out of 5 stars a new vision
Until I read this book, I thought it might not be bad to trade and do other business with tyrannies.
Now I am not so sure. Sharansky's simple idea is very compelling. Read more
Published on April 23, 2010 by honey
1.0 out of 5 stars The Work of a Blind Crusader
My Stanford professor likes to say...if you aren't an idealist when you're a child, you have no heart. If you aren't a realist when you're an adult, you have no brains. Read more
Published on January 21, 2010 by D. Limon
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