The Shortest History of Democracy

John Keane


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Old Street Publishing
4 April 2023
ISBN: 9781913083380

From the publisher


The roots of democracy stretch back beyond Athens to Syria- Mesopotamia and the Indian subcontinent, where citizens’ assemblies held privilege and power to account over 3,000 years before the French Revolution. In this timely and illuminating new global history, John Keane gets to the heart of a complex, ever-evolving ideal.

Today, American-style democracy may appear to be in decline, but Keane shows that this isn’t the whole story. In many places, such as Taiwan and Senegal, India and South Africa, distinctly local varieties are coming into being. Yet it’s impossible to ignore the proliferation of populist strongmen on every continent: the Putins and the Bolsonaros, the Trumps and Lukashenkos. Is democracy past its sell-by date, as they would have us believe? Or is it time to embrace the true, radical potential of an ancient idea?