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Adventures in Democracy by Erica Benner
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Adventures in Democracy

The Turbulent World of People Power
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Narrator Louise Brealey

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Length 8 hours 36 minutes
Language English
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Brought to you by Penguin.

In a hyper-competitive world obsessed with rankings, super-wealth and greatness, how can we live up to democratic ideals of equality?

Erica Benner has spent a lifetime thinking about these questions from different angles in different countries - from post-war Japan, where democracy was imposed on a defeated country, to post-communist Poland, with sudden gaps of wealth and security, and the US and South Africa with their legacies of slavery and racism.

Adventures in Democracy draws on her experiences and the deep history of democracies - in ancient Rome and Athens, the American and French revolutions and Renaissance Florence - to offer an unflinching portrait of modern democracy. To salvage democratic institutions and ideals, Benner argues, we need to pay more attention to inequalities and struggles for power among citizens. Probing myths of heroic triumph over tyranny and inexorable progress towards equality, she reveals the vulnerabilities of people power, inviting us to consider why democracy is worth fighting for and the role each citizen must play.

©2024 Erica Benner (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Erica Benner is a political philosopher who has taught at Oxford University, the London School of Economics and Yale. She is the author of Be Like the Fox, which was selected as one of the Guardian's Best Books of 2017 and shortlisted for the 2018 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. Erica was born in Japan and currently lives in Berlin.

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Reviews

A sparkling account of people power through the ages, and how to save it from itself . . . a page-turner full of wit, original insight and unassuming erudition . . . a timely reminder that we can all play our part Shows how ancient wisdom might save democracies from anarchy and ruin . . . That she has lived and taught the ideas she writes about gives the book an enjoyable vitality Highly stimulating . . . wonderfully readable . . . wherever she darts in history, Benner is a terrific guide, always questioning, always teasing out parallels . . . she brings clarity and curiosity to each issue . . . and a deep understanding of the past . . . her analysis of democracy's key strengths and weaknesses is forensic A lively, accessible account of democracy, its strengths and weaknesses over the past 2,500 years . . . it comes with a plea to throw out the self-satisfied view that western democracy is a kind of political perfection, and to bring more honesty to our conversations about the ideal versus the reality of modern democracy An invigorating reflection on the tensions in liberal democracy. Benner weaves together personal reflections on life in Japan and Eastern Europe with a nuanced account of ancient philosophies that are all too often caricatured. Essential reading for anyone tempted to be complacent about the survival of democracy in the twenty-first century Engaging, illuminating, and arrives at an opportune moment. . . An overriding concern is that though democratic norms encourage us to love equality, we tend to want more of it for ourselves than for the rest Erica Ben­ner lends a personal, familiar touch to a difficult, layered subject. The tone of the narrative and how the chapters unfold are riveting — it is almost as if Benner is sitting down to have a meal with you and engaging in a frank, informal discussion about…democracy, its “be­ginnings and myths”, the “constant struggles” it has faced over the years and the “mortal dangers” it suffers today Political philosopher Erica Benner offers an original, highly humanistic analysis focusing on how individuals have interacted organically with democracy…Benner forensically dissects the strengths and failings of democracy... She offers — in a beautifully written account — instructive lessons about the compromises and contradictions that democratic systems have had to grapple with and the questions that informed citizens must ask themselves when considering their political futures Expand reviews
Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with giveaways, merch, and more! Learn more