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The Irony of Democracy: An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics Paperback – June 21, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0155058002 ISBN-10: 0155058002 Edition: 11th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Wadsworth Pub Co; 11th edition (June 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0155058002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0155058002
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas R. Dye is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Florida State University. He received his B.S. and M.A from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books and articles on American government and public policy. Dye has served as president of the Southern Political Science Association, president of the Policy Studies Organization, and secretary of the American Political Science Association. He is the recipient of the Harold Lassell Award for career contributions to the study of public policy, and the Donald C. Stone Award for career contributions to the study of federalism. He received the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2001 from Penn State's College of Liberal Arts. Dye has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Georgia. He served as visiting scholar at Bar-Elan University, Israel; and the Brookings Institution, Washington.

Harmon Zeigler has taught at numerous universities, including the Florida State University, Emory University, the University of Georgia, the University of Oregon, State University of New York (Stony Brook), New York University, and the University of Washington. Abroad, he has taught at the University of Oslo, Sydney University, and Passau University. In addition to THE IRONY OF DEMOCRACY: AN UNCOMMON INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS, he and Thomas R. Dye wrote AMERICAN POLITICS IN THE MEDIA AGE. His other books include: INTEREST GROUPS IN AMERICAN SOCIETY, GOVERNING AMERICAN SCHOOLS (with Kent Jennings), THE QUEST FOR RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT (with Harvey Tucker), THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY, PLURALISM, CORPORATISM AND CONFUCIANISM, and POLITICAL PARTIES IN INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACIES. He has received two Fulbright awards and was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1970. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
This book is definitely a must read for everyone, not just students.
Analtha Moroffko
This is a one of a kind book for any independent thinker questioning the status quo.
I read this book thirty years ago and it had a profound impact on me.
Peter Calvet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "legal_geek" on December 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
"The Irony of Democracy" was my college-level introduction to American politics, and I feel it provided me something far greater than any of the political/historical texts I read in high school. Instead of the same details of Democrats as the longest political party and Columbus crossing the ocean blue in 1492, Dye and Zeigler focus on the current United States political agendas and attempt to unravel how and why this country has developed as it has.
The thing that I liked best about this text is that it reads more like a novel than a textbook. It explains United States politics in an engaging way that forces the reader to react. Dye and Zeigler support that America is an elitist nation, and back up their argument with an analysis of government structure (primary elections, electoral college, what it takes to REALLY make it into Congress) and interaction between governmental branches and the American public (through political action committees, interest groups, and the media). Also interesting are the facts presented on similarities between political parties as an effort to reach the "middle ground."
If your instructor recommends this book, expect a class that will take you far beyond the nuts and bolts of American politics; expect to make your own conclusions on what may make the United States a stronger nation, why you should challenge the system from time to time, and actually learn WHY and HOW politics work the way that they do. The class you take may end up requiring more thought or effort on your part if this is one of the required readings, but you will come out of the class more informed, wary, and enlightened about what really governs our actions and thoughts as masses.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mwreview on February 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book for an introductory political science course in junior college and I enjoyed it so much that, although I was not planning to be a political science major, I decided not to sell this book back to the college. This textbook is a thorough , well-written, and well-organized study of the basics of American democracy (or republicanism, if you will). The authors are brutally honest in their overview of the American democratic system. The irony of democracy?: "Elites-not masses-govern the United States" and, my favorite, "that democratic ideals survive because the masses are generally apathetic and inactive" (the masses breed intolerance, you see). Among the fifteen chapters is one entitled "Elite-Mass Communication: Television, the Press, and the Pollsters," which I found to be very interesting.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful By on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book came to my attention as I was studying for my BA in Political Science and has been one of the the foundations for my political perspective ever since.
Some of the other reviews really don't get it, but it is really pretty simple and pretty disturbing
1. this is a republican form of government, not a pure democracy
2. any move towards a pure democracy usually comes at the expense of liberty, which is why our founding fathers set the system up as they did
3. the average guy on the street, if given the chance, would be motivated to actually vote away the bill of rights most likely because he is an ignorant product of government schooling. this is the most disturbing fact in the book and supported with more than adequate research - that our democracy actually has more support within what are commonly called elite groups than it has among the "common" man
4. despite what the left wing pundits say, having a multiplicity of players in the political game (including corporations) is a desirable thing because the competing elites tend to check and cancel each other out. This is called the theory of democratic pluralism.
5. told you it was easy, now comes the hard part ending the influence of the teacher's union on national politics
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Kelley on January 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Decades ago The Irony of Democracy sat upon the thrift store shelf, literally whispering to me, calling out to be read. Forking over the twenty-five cent piece (US currency) I boldly strode to the abode and commenced devouring the words within.

Over the years I read the book again then yet again. Ultimately, over a 35 year period, I believe the total number of readings has been either five or six.

Each time I interpreted the words, sentences, paragraphs and more in different ways as my knowledge base and, I hope, my wisdom, very slightly expanded as I amassed knowledge and wisdom from extensive non-fiction reading from many subject areas along with life experience.

I must warn thee, my fellow Americans, that perhaps it MAY be best for you to ignore this book. To shun it. To flee if you espy it and to avert your eyes wherever it appears.

"Why, you Disgruntled Old Coot?" I can imagine you shouting out in wonderment.

Because... you may, possibly, perhaps, be altered into some form of disgruntled yourself.

This book, combined with gained knowledge from other sources along with my individual life experience has altered the indoctrination/brainwashing all Americans are exposed to from our earliest years from a bewildering variety of sources.

Once I was a much less complex creature, blindly believing that what our Founders created was, though imperfect as is all that is human created, a truly wondrous entity of governing. So immersed was I in the indoctrination I ignored so much evidence to the contrary and also enlisted in the USA military, prancing off to two overseas tours to "defend" the USA and Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic; ready to sacrifice my life "for the cause.
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