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Democracy: A Very Short Introduction

Bernard Crick

Publication Date - January 2003

ISBN: 9780192802507

144 pages
4-1/2 x 7 inches

In Stock

An engaging primer on the history and practice of a form of government more often aspired to than achieved


No political concept is more used, and misused, than that of democracy. Nearly every regime today claims to be democratic, but not all "democracies" allow free politics, and free politics existed long before democratic franchises.
This book is a short account of the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, from ancient Greece and Rome through the American, French, and Russian revolutions, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world. It argues that democracy is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for good government, and that ideas of the rule of law, and of human rights, should in some situations limit democratic claims.


  • A lively and accessible guide to the history, doctrine, and practices of democracy
  • Challenges the view that democracy is a single, overriding imperative
  • Stresses the importance but also the dangers of unmodified and unrestrained democracy
  • Unravels the startlingly contrasting ways in which 'democracy' has been interpreted in different times and places
  • Covers the main controversies about such issues as who should have a right to vote, by looking at key case studies
  • Bernard Crick is one of the best known and most respected academics in politics
  • Known also for his journalism and as principal author of the 'Crick Report' on the teaching of citizenship and politics in schools

About the Author(s)

Bernard Crick is Emeritus Professor of Politics, Birkbeck College, London. He is author of In Defence of Politics--hailed as a modern classic and in print since 1962. He is also author of the prize-winning George Orwell: A Life and of Essays on Citizenship, and, more recently, Crossing Borders. He was adviser on citizenship to the Department of Education from 1998 to 2001.