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Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape Hardcover – December 24, 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A fascinating look into how Afghan politics trump Western political theory, Derailing Democracy is readable yet filled with insight. The book is a serious critique of international democracy practice and funding that needs attention well beyond those interested in Afghanistan. It highlights the consequences of letting donor expediency sideline cultural understanding, including the multifaceted role of violence.

(Ronald Neumann, United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, 2005–2007)

More snake oil than panacea, the promise of elections in Afghanistan has failed to create a representative government―and worse―has displaced other tested traditions of consensus building that Afghans have long relied upon. Derailing Democracy explains why this is the case, but the lessons it draws have much wider applicability well beyond Afghanistan.

(Thomas Barfield, author of Afghanistan: A Political and Cultural History)

Noah Coburn and Anna Larson refuse to describe the democratization process in Afghanistan in the simplistic terms of the success or failure of elections, but instead describe how the introduction of elections by the international community altered and reshaped Afghan power dynamics, paradoxically creating a less democratic politics and a more corrupt elite.

(Scott Seward Smith, director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, United States Institute of World Peace, and author of Afghanistan's Troubled Transition: Politics, Peacekeeping, and the 2004 Presidential Election)

Review

Derailing Democracy is timely and highly relevant; the combination of political science and anthropology is of great potential. The authors argue convincingly that the way in which elections have been implemented in Afghanistan has contributed to the destabilization of the country.

(Alessandro Monsutti, author of War and Migration: Social Networks and Economic Strategies of the Hazaras of Afghanistan)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (December 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231166206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231166201
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Carter A. Malkasian on January 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Derailing Democracy is one of the most insightful books on politics in Afghanistan. It is a detailed explanation of how tribal politics and patronage networks bend the electoral system in Afghanistan. First-rate scholarly analysis is accompanied by stories of the experiences of individual Afghans that bring the elections in Afghanistan to life. Anyone involved in this year's elections in Afghanistan should read this book. Beyond Afghanistan, the book shows how democracy works outside the West and how Western preconceptions often do not match reality.
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