Catalogue


First democracy [electronic resource] : the challenge of an ancient idea /
Paul Woodruff.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
description
xi, 284 p. : ill., maps ; 19 cm.
ISBN
0195177185 (alk. paper), 9780195177183 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
isbn
0195177185 (alk. paper)
9780195177183 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8566795
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-12-06:
For those who think they live in a democracy, Woodruff, a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, argues that the ideal of "government by and for the people" was in some ways more closely attained over 2,000 years ago in Athens. Exploring that model of first democracy in depth, Woodruff plainly states its defects (e.g., the exclusion of women and slaves) and outlines its checkered history, while noting its striking features. Athenian democracy was not majority rule, with a disregard for the minority, nor did Athens have elected representatives who were beholden to special interests. Lotteries rather than elections were used to appoint magistrates and council members; juries were very large (and thus hard to bribe). The assembly was composed of the first 6,000 men to arrive on the hill. A tendency toward generality (when discussing concepts like "the rule of law" and "natural equality") coupled with a lack of vivid descriptions of Greek society sometimes makes the book soporific. But the closing critique of the present-day American system and proposals for its democratization are bracing. Woodruff admires the democratic ideal "because it takes human imperfections into account better than any other ideal of government." This book will make even jaded readers want to see more of that ideal in action. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--and brings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we face to fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers
"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--andbrings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we faceto fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers
"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--and brings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we face to fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers "Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years of history, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, most beautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea of democracy."--William Broyles Jr., author of Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace, and screenwriter of Cast Away and Apollo 13 "This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, life and death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its country cousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy and conveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtly compares how modern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperial overreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctly concludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in finding a way to be true to Athens at its best."--Ted Becker, Alumni Professor of Political Science, Auburn University "This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and erudition of the analysis. It is a beautiful book." --Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--and brings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we face to fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers "Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years of history, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, most beautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea of democracy."--William Broyles Jr., author of Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace , and screenwriter of Cast Away and Apollo 13 "This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, life and death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its country cousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy and conveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtly compares how modern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperial overreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctly concludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in finding a way to be true to Athens at its best."--Ted Becker, Alumni Professor of Political Science, Auburn University "This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and erudition of the analysis. It is a beautiful book." --Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--and brings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we face to fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers "Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years of history, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, most beautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea of democracy."--William Broyles Jr., author ofBrothers in Arms: A Journey from War toPeace, and screenwriter ofCast AwayandApollo 13 "This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, life and death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its country cousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy and conveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtly compares how modern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperial overreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctly concludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in finding a way to be true to Athens at its best."--Ted Becker, Alumni Professor of Political Science, Auburn University "This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and erudition of the analysis. It is a beautiful book." --Philip C. Bobbitt, author ofThe Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
"Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years of history, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, most beautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea of democracy."--William Broyles Jr., author of Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War toPeace, and screenwriter of Cast Away and Apollo 13
"Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years ofhistory, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, mostbeautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea ofdemocracy."--William Broyles Jr., author of Brothers in Arms: A Journey from Warto Peace, and screenwriter of Cast Away and Apollo 13
"This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, life and death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its country cousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy and conveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtlycompares how modern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperial overreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctly concludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in finding a way to be true to Athens at its best." --TedBecker, Alumni Professor of Political Science,
"This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, lifeand death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its countrycousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy andconveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtly compares howmodern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperialoverreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctlyconcludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in findinga way to be true to Athens at its best." --Ted Becker, Alumni Professor ofPolitical Science
"This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and eruditionof the analysis. It is a beautiful book."--Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
"This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamentalquestions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of theAthenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policyprescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and erudition ofthe analysis. It is a beautiful book."--Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shieldof Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
"Woodruff...uses long-forgotten manuscripts and poetry, among other sources, to explain in a clear and concise narrative the strengths and weaknesses of the Athenian system. His work is a mixture of classics, philosophy and and ancient history, which even readers with little knowledge of theseweighty subjects will find fascinating and accessible....excellent and absorbing...should be on the bedside of every democratically elected leader." - Globe and Mail
"Woodruff...uses long-forgotten manuscripts and poetry, among othersources, to explain in a clear and concise narrative the strengths andweaknesses of the Athenian system. His work is a mixture of classics, philosophyand and ancient history, which even readers with little knowledge of theseweighty subjects will find fascinating and accessible....excellent andabsorbing...should be on the bedside of every democratically elected leader." -Globe and Mail
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, December 2004
Globe & Mail, April 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
A study of the concept and practice of democracy examines how the democratic impulse first came to life in ancient Athens, as well as the seven conditions that are necessary to democracy.
Long Description
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In this eye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditions that are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny (including the tyranny of majority rule), harmony (the blending of different views), the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of law so strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship. Ancient Athens didn't always live up to these ideals. Nor does modern America. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, it should be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world.
Main Description
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In thiseye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditionsthat are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny , harmony, the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of lawso strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, itshould be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world.
Main Description
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In thiseye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditionsthat are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny (including the tyranny of majority rule), harmony (the blending of different views), the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willingto invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of law so strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship.Ancient Athens didn't always live up to these ideals. Nor does modern America. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, it should be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world.
Main Description
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In this eye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditions that are thesine qua nonof democracy: freedom from tyranny (including the tyranny of majority rule), harmony (the blending of different views), the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of law so strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship. Ancient Athens didn't always live up to these ideals. Nor does modern America. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, it should be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world.
Short Annotation
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world.
Unpaid Annotation
This brilliant analysis of the nature of democracy draws on the hard-earned lessons of the ancient Greeks.
Table of Contents
Introduction : democracy and its doublesp. 3
The life and death of democracyp. 21
Freedom from tyranny (and from being a tyrant)p. 61
Harmonyp. 81
The rule of law (Nomos)p. 109
Natural equalityp. 127
Citizen wisdomp. 145
Reasoning without knowledgep. 171
Education (Paideia)p. 191
Afterword : are Americans ready for democracy?p. 211
Guide to the Peloponnesian Warp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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