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Kings or People: Power and the Mandate to Rule Revised ed. Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520040908
ISBN-10: 0520040902
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An accessible comparative history of the nations surveyed, and a major contribution to the study of political systems and cultures."--"Kirkus Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"A brilliant achievement that will be equally fascinating for the general reader, the student and the specialized scholar." 
--Henry W . Ehrmann
 
"Reinhard Bendix has written a major comparative account of the history of five countries, seeking to determine which factors made possible the rise of royal authority in the early period of their development and which factors accounted for the emergence more recently of political practices and institutions legitimized by the will of the people . . . . The author has conducted his inquiry with skill, intelligence, and vast learning. Here and there the reader will hear echoes and overtones of Arnold Toynbee and William H. McNeill, less in the conclusions that are reached than in the questions asked and the techniques employed. This is comparative history in the grand tradition, bold, challenging, scholarly, and ingenious. . . . The book rests on a solid mastery of the historical  literature, analyzed and interpreted by a sharp mind ... . I remain impressed by the bold purposes and sharp insights of the book. It offers an analysis of the process of political modernization that is original, perceptive, and generally convincing."
--Theodore S. Hamerow, American Historical Review
 
"This is an important book . . . intended to make the point that the modernization of today's great nations followed unique courses,' in which each stage influenced but didn't determine the succeeding stage, and in which creativity, imitation, and diffusion are important factors . ... This affirmation of the unique is a useful corrective to the oversimplified model building which has characterized recent work in the field of development and modernization . . . . Surely Kings or People will quickly take its place in courses in comparative politics, political development, and political sociology . . . A teacher will treat this book as a treasure-house of examples and illustration; the general reader will find this a lucidly written introduction to world political history."
--Gabriel A. Almond, California Monthly
 
"Kings or People is equal to the grandeur of its subject: the political origins of the modern world. With Barrington Moore's Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modern World System which it matches in boldness, while  differing radically in perspective, it is one of the truly powerful ventures in comparative historical sociology to have appeared in recent years."
--Clifford Geertz
 
"Reinhard Bendix has combined the particular approach with the general one, by studying the history of five separate countries and by demonstrating how the experience of each represented a critical stage in the general transformation of authority which, in turn, influenced the process of change in others . . . . A remarkable achievement on all counts."
--Gordon A. Craig, Stanford University
 
"No one seriously interested in political development in any nation in the world can afford to neglect this tremendous scholarly achievement or fail to come to grips with the ideas it contains. Kings or People will continue to be read after most of the contemporary literature on comparative politics is long and deservedly forgotten."
--Victor Ferkiss, Perspective
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised ed. edition (April 8, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520040902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520040908
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By César González Rouco on June 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
As far as I know, there are not many books (i) dealing with monarchy (ii) with a comparative framework (iii) including not only Europe but also other parts of the world and (iv) readable enough for the non-scholarly public. In that sense, Bendix's work seems to me interesting enough to recommend it, in particular those parts dealing with Russia and Japan.

Other books that I would recommend would be "State and status" by Samuel Clark; "Myths of Power. Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court " by Jeroen Duindam; "Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe, 1300-1800" by Hillay Zmora; "Nobilities in Transition 1550-1700: Courtiers and Rebels in Britain and Europe" by Ronald G. Asch; and "The Persistence of the Ancient Regime" by Arno J. Mayer.
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Format: Hardcover
As far as I know, there are not many books (i) dealing with monarchy (ii) with a comparative framework (iii) including not only Europe but also other parts of the world and (iv) readable enough for the non-scholarly public. In that sense, Bendix's work seems to me interesting enough to recommend it, in particular those parts dealing with Russia and Japan.

Other books that I would recommend would be "State and status" by Samuel Clark; "Myths of Power. Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court " by Jeroen Duindam; "Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe, 1300-1800" by Hillay Zmora; "Nobilities in Transition 1550-1700: Courtiers and Rebels in Britain and Europe" by Ronald G. Asch; and "The Persistence of the Ancient Regime" by Arno J. Mayer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an exceptionally useful introduction to history as a rigorous philosophical pursuit. Most students of history, of course, have a natural enthusiasm for the subject; but when trying use historical research for understanding something else, one has to grasp the nexus of history and sociology.

It's a thematic history of the evolution of the European and East Asian state; it specifically addresses the motivations of the elites and the decisions they took that led to the development of democracy (or not). The nations examined include Japan, Germany, Russia, England, and France. Bendix focuses his inquiry into the formation of interested groups in each country, and how their power became critical to the survival of the regime. Hence, well before the English Revolution (1642-1660), the urban commoners had considerable strength arising from their role in the sea and coastal trade. This was gradually translated into explicit political power. By contrast, in Russia, the urban commerce unambiguously enhanced the power and incentive of the landlords to exploit the peasants; it tended to fragment Russia economically, while preserving a conservative hierarchy.

Bendix distinguishes between the formation of a state through the development of kingly authority; and the later phase of national development, during which the people acquire decisive powers. The latter occurred mainly because of the former: the king was compelled to mobilize his subjects, usually against the second tier of aristocracy. Government is bureaucratized in order to collect revenues and wage war; but bureaucratization imposes constraints on the kingly power, since the king can do nothing without an educated staff, and the staff risks loss of confidence if it affronts the main economic elites.
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Format: Hardcover
As far as I know, there are not many books (i) dealing with monarchy (ii) with a comparative framework (iii) including not only Europe but also other parts of the world and (iv) readable enough for the non-scholarly public. In that sense, Bendix's work seems to me interesting enough to recommend it, in particular those parts dealing with Russia and Japan.

Other books that I would recommend would be "State and status" by Samuel Clark; "Myths of Power. Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court " by Jeroen Duindam; "Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe, 1300-1800" by Hillay Zmora; "Nobilities in Transition 1550-1700: Courtiers and Rebels in Britain and Europe" by Ronald G. Asch; and "The Persistence of the Ancient Regime" by Arno J. Mayer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
As far as I know, there are not many books (i) dealing with monarchy (ii) with a comparative framework (iii) including not only Europe but also other parts of the world and (iv) readable enough for the non-scholarly public. In that sense, Bendix's work seems to me interesting enough to recommend it, in particular those parts dealing with Russia and Japan.

Other books that I would recommend would be "State and status" by Samuel Clark; "Myths of Power. Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court " by Jeroen Duindam; "Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe, 1300-1800" by Hillay Zmora; "Nobilities in Transition 1550-1700: Courtiers and Rebels in Britain and Europe" by Ronald G. Asch; and "The Persistence of the Ancient Regime" by Arno J. Mayer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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