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NED Library recommended reads

The following is a  selection of books and articles recommended by the NED library. Take a look at our reading list celebrating Larry Diamond who will be honored with a Democracy Service Medal on May 18th! Check out the full list here. Learn more about NED’s library here. Register for the event here.

Ill winds: Saving democracy from Russian rage, Chinese ambition, and American complacency
by Larry Diamond

“From America’s leading scholar of democracy, a personal, passionate call to action against the rising authoritarianism that challenges our world order–and the very value of liberty. Larry Diamond has made it his life’s work to secure democracy’s future by understanding its past and by advising dissidents fighting autocracy around the world. Deeply attuned to the cycles of democratic expansion and decay that determine the fates of nations, he watched with mounting unease as illiberal rulers rose in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, and beyond, while China and Russia grew increasingly bold and bullying. Then, with Trump’s election at home, the global retreat from freedom spread from democracy’s margins to its heart. [The book’s] core argument is stark: the defense and advancement of democratic ideals relies on U.S. global leadership. If we do not reclaim our traditional place as the keystone of democracy, today’s authoritarian swell could become a tsunami, providing an opening for Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and their admirers to turn the twenty-first century into a dark time of despotism. We are at a hinge in history, between a new era of tyranny and an age of democratic renewal. Free governments can defend their values; free citizens can exercise their rights. We can make the internet safe for liberal democracy, exploit the soft, kleptocratic underbelly of dictatorships, and revive America’s degraded democracy. Ill Winds offers concrete, deeply informed suggestions to fight polarization, reduce the influence of money in politics, and make every vote count. In 2019, freedom’s last line of defense still remains ‘We the people.’ ”    — Provided by publisher.


The spirit of democracy: The struggle to build free societies throughout the world
by Larry Diamond

“In 1974, nearly three-quarters of all countries were dictatorships; today, more than half are democracies. Yet recent efforts to promote democracy have stumbled, and many democratic governments are faltering. Here, social scientist Diamond examines how and why democracy progresses. He demonstrates that the desire for democracy runs deep, even in very poor countries, and that seemingly entrenched regimes like Iran and China could become democracies within a generation. He also dissects the causes of the “democratic recession” in critical states, including the crime-infested oligarchy in Russia and the strong-armed populism of Venezuela. Diamond cautions that arrogance and inconsistency have undermined America’s aspirations to promote democracy. To spur a renewed democratic boom, he urges vigorous support of good governance–the rule of law, security, protection of individual rights, and shared economic prosperity–and free civic organizations. Only then will the spirit of democracy be secured.” — Provided by publisher




Facing Up to the Democratic Recession
by Larry Diamond

“Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last decade. Yet the picture is not entirely bleak. We have not seen “a third reverse wave.” The key imperative in the near term is to work to reform and consolidate the democracies that have emerged during the third wave—the majority of which remain illiberal and unstable, if they remain democratic at all. It is vital that democrats in the established democracies not lose faith. Democrats have the better set of ideas. Democracy may be receding somewhat in practice, but it is still globally ascendant in peoples’ values and aspirations.” — Article Abscract


Democracy’s Arc: From Resurgent to Imperiled (Expanded Edition)
by Larry Diamond 

“The Journal of Democracy  began publishing in 1990 in an era of hopeful, even exhilarating, expansion of democracy around the world. Democracy was on the march not only literally—on the ground and at the ballot box—but normatively and intellectually. Yet even at the peak of democracy’s third wave in the mid-1990s, scholars were worrying about the shallow nature of many democratic regimes. These illiberal, poorly governed democracies were identified as prime candidates for erosion, and many of the have since failed or oscillated. Beginning in 2006, the world entered a period of global democratic recession that has gathered considerable momentum in recent years. Now, with the deterioration of democratic norms and institutions in the United States, the growing doubts about democracy’s efficacy, and the resurgence of authoritarian power and belligerence (led by China and Russia), democracy faces its most daunting test in many decades.” — Article Abstract