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What's Wrong with Democracy?: From Athenian Practice to American Worship

What's Wrong with Democracy?: From Athenian Practice to American Worship
Author: Loren J. Samons
ISBN 13: 9780520251687
ISBN 10: 520251687
Edition: 1
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2007-04-23
Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
List Price: $27.95

"This is unlike any recent work I know of. It offers a challenging, often refreshing, and what will certainly be a controversial assessment of classical Athenian democracy and its significance to modern America. Samons is willing to tread where few other classicists are willing to go in print. He reminds readers that the Athenian democracy offers just as many negative lessons as positive ones, and topics like the popular vote, the dangers of state payments to individual citizens, the naturally acquisitive foreign policy of democratic governments, and the place of religion in democracy all come up for discussion and criticism. Samons has written an original and very provocative book."—James Sickinger, author of Public Records and Archives in Classical Athens

"Professor Samons' lively and challenging account of ancient Athens raises important questions about democracy, ancient and modern. It will surely arouse keen interest and debate."—Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War

In this elegantly written, carefully researched, and perceptive book, Samons presents a penetrating analysis of ancient Athenian democracy's dark sides. His book is as much about the errors and weaknesses of our own political system as it is about those of ancient Athens. Whether or not we agree with his critique and conclusions, this book is not merely thought-provoking: it is annoyingly discomforting, forcing us to re-examine firm beliefs and to discard easy solutions."—Kurt A. Raaflaub, author of Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece

In this marvelously unfashionable book, Samons debunks much of what passes in the current-day academy as scholarship on classical Athens, demonstrating that it is an ideologically-driven apology for a radically defective form of government.
In the process, he casts light on the perspicacity of America's founding fathers and on the unthinking populism that threatens in our own day to ruin their legacy."—Paul A. Rahe, author of Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution

"We are in the greatest age of democracy since antiquity and in the most need of guidance about the wisdom of government by majority vote. Precisely for that reason Professor Samons offers a bold and unbridled look at the nature and history of democracies, ancient and modern. He reminds us that we are capable of doing as much evil as good when constitutional protections and republican oversight are not there to moderate the instant desires of the majority. This is an engaging, provocative, and timely study of ancient Athens and modern America that should serve as a cautionary reminder to both romantic scholars and zealous diplomats."—Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Other Greeks