- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 13, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691050244
- ISBN-13: 978-0691050249
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#2,562,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2602 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civics & Citizenship
- #3519 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Ideologies
- #4147 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Democracy
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A Passion for Democracy
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From Library Journal
In this thought-provoking anthology, political theorist Barber (Jihad v. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the New World, LJ 8/95) has collected and revised 20 of his essays examining the strengths and weaknesses of various political ideas that have shaped American political thought. He often waxes poetic as he argues in erudite prose that America has swung too far to "liberal democracy," emphasizing individual rights at the expense of citizen participation and consent. Barber believes that the aim of democracy should be "harmony" resulting from citizen involvement rather than the "cacophony" that results from libertarianism. Ultimately, Barber claims, this "harmony" is created not by accepting one or another idea of government but by the active involvement of citizens in the political process. Frequent references to classical and contemporary political philosophers buttress the author's closely reasoned narratives. Though not easy reading, Barber's clear, stylistic prose offers readers an incisive look into the ideas that have formed their government. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.AJack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Barber opens up the way for reexamining just what our role must be in the cause of Democracy. A stunning and sobering look at civil society at the century's end."--Virginia Quarterly Review
"Overall, the work is typical Barber: well written, conceptually fascinating, and astutely relevant."--Choice
"Enlightening.... Politicians and history teachers, citizens even, would be wise to pick up this collection."--Kathleen Daley, Newark Star-Ledger
"The essays in A Passion for Democracy offer nuggets of keen historical insight and every so often connect with a sharp dart to the complacent regions of liberal capitalism. . . . It doesn't hurt that, in an arena in which turgid, jargon-ridden prose is the rule, Barber can spin a phrase with the dexterity of Derek Jeter turning a double-play at second base."--Loren Lomasky, Reason
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Top Customer Reviews
Barber's prose is dense and not an easy read for people accustomed to lesser scribes, but every word counts, and he writes with dry humor throughout; I laughed as he enlightened me. It may require slow, thorough re-readings to absorb the entire content, very much like Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", which is the closest thing I can think of to compare it to. Pirsig's book explores the self, and Barber does the same for society. Both are worth the time it takes to understand.
One essay alone justifies buying the whole book, but after that there's a lot more. I ordered it just so I could have it to explore its depths at leisure.
As to the five-year-old review, I quote from the first edition on page 183 of the very essay I mentioned above:
"The conditions of truth and the conditions of democracy are one and the same... And just as no argument will be privileged over other arguments simply because of how or from whom it originates, so no individual will be privileged over other individuals simply because of who he is (white or male or straight) and where he comes from [old money, good Protestant stock, the United States of America)." Barber doesn't waste time and effort catering to the politically correct, and thereby sacrificing clarity. As is normal usage, he includes she, etc.
Certainly Barber could have phrased "(white or male or straight)" as "(white or black or brown or yellow; female or male or neuter; straight or gay or bisexual)", but that would have just made it harder to read. A clear reading shows that all those were implied in Barber's concise version, without sacrificing clarity.
I mention this because I feel the single 1999 review needed balancing. Five Stars. No less relevant in 2004.