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The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror Hardcover – November 9, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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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.


"For opinion makers, I would put [this] on your recommended reading list...[Sharansky] is an heroic figure. It's a great book." -- President George W. Bush

"Provocative and important... Sharansky's argument reinforces his belief that only democratic societies can create real peace in the world." -- Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 2005

"This book has the merit of straightforwardness... [it's] written with vigor, argued with panache and imbued with the fierce conviction..." -- New York Times, February 12, 2005

"[A] fast-paced read." -- New York Post, December 5, 2004

"[This] book can be a blueprint for measurable, positive change... in the Palestinian Authority [and] Arab world as a whole." -- National Review, December 27, 2004

"the perfect gift for friends or family members..." -- New York Sun November 9, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (November 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482619
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ronald W. Satz on December 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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