This week’s list includes some big names like David Graeber, Brian Klaas, and Hélène Landemore. But it also includes an edited volume on Indian Democracy and an academic work on political mobilization in democracies. Some of these books focus more on democracy than others. However, they all focus on topics that I find relevant to the study of democracy. Every book includes a podcast to learn more from the authors of the book. Of course, don’t miss this week’s conversation about institutional weakness on the podcast!
The Dawn of Everything
David Graeber was an important intellectual who played a key role in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The response to his unexpected death last year demonstrated the influence he had among scholars and activists. So, this book will carry a great deal of emotional significance for many beyond its intellectual contributions. At the same time, I do not want to minimize its contributions to intellectual conversations. Some reviews have described The Dawn of Everything as a response to Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, but it seems to focuse more on the early history of humanity or rather its prehistory.
You can listen to coauthor David Wengrow discuss the book in the conversation below or click on the link below the media player to visit the publisher’s site for The Dawn of Everything.
David Graeber and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Everything
Many of the episodes on the Democracy Paradox focus on different forms of political mobilization. Early episodes discussed civil resistance, while a recent episode discussed state-led mobilized movements. Lisa Jane Disch discusses political mobilization in-depth in this book from the University of Chicago Press. Her book is among the most exciting books among pure scholarship. It’s difficult to find examples where Lisa Jane Disch has discussed her work. The podcast below is from almost three years ago. It features many different scholars, but you can fast forward to the 35:00 mark to hear directly from Lisa Jane Disch.
I first came across the work of Brian Klaas in the book How to Rig an Election. He cowrote that book with Nic Cheeseman who is among my favorite political scientists and a past guest of the Democracy Paradox. Needless to say, Brian Klaas is among the most influential scholars on the subject of political corruption. He is also the host of the podcast Power Corrupts. The entire series appears to touch on the subjects in Corruptible. The episode below is the first from the series.
Brian Klaas, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us
Companion to Indian Democracy
India is the world’s largest democracy. It is also one of the older democracies with an origin shortly after World War II. The Democracy Paradox has discussed India in many episodes including an in-depth examination with Christophe Jaffrelot. This book approaches Indian democracy from many perspectives through the contributions of different scholars. It is an edited volume so it offers an opportunity to learn from a variety of experts. The podcast below features Hilal Ahmed discussing the intersection of religion and politics in India. However, those interested in looking into the book may find it helpful to look over the table of contents on the publisher’s website.
Peter Ronald deSouza, Mohd. Sanjeer Alam, Hilal Ahmed (ed.), Companion to Indian Democracy: Resilience, Fragility, Ambivalence
Jason Brennan is best known as the author of Against Democracy. Hélène Landemore, on the other hand, is a widely recognized champion of deliberative democracy. So, this book offers a perfect contrast between views on democracy. Moreover, it really is presented as a debate with arguments from both scholars along with responses from each. Hélène Landemore is the recent author of the book Open Democracy. You can listen to her thoughts about democracy below.
Jason Brennan and Hélène Landemore, Debating Democracy: Do We Need More or Less?