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The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror [Hardcover]

Natan Sharansky
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Oct 2004
One of the leading figures in the Soviet human rights movement who became a major political voice in Israel writes about democracy, about which he has earned the right to be passionate.. Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to walk into the middle of a town square and say whatever you like without fear of arrest or imprisonment. He should know. A dissident in the Soviet Union Sharansky was jailed for nine years for asserting his right to speak freely. During that time he reinforced his moral conviction that democracy above all others was a political virtue to be protected and enhanced, whatever the circumstances. It is a prerequisite for civilized society. Since his release and emigration to Israel in 1986 Sharansky has been a deputy prime minister of the Knesset, leading the party of Russian immigrants, and is now minister for Jerusalem. He has been pilloried by those who say he has been a disappointment as a liberal activist. He says he has been as consistent as he has been stubborn: tyranny, whether in the Soviet Union or the Middle East, must always be made to bow before Democacy. For Sharansky, drawing on a lifetime of experience of democracy and of its absence, politics is no longer a matter of left and right but of right and wrong. Politics must face up to moral responsibility and make hard choices: it must determine what matters most. And for Sharansky, it is only democracy that can safeguard the wellbeing of societies.This is a passionately argued book from a man who carries supreme moral authority to make the case he does here: that all rights and freedoms stem from democracy. With it robustly in place, societies will thrive and nations should be respected. Its absence is a fatal moral flaw that cannot be ignored. His argument is sure to stir controversy on all sides; his opinions will be studied at the highest levels of government policy making; this is arguably the next great issue of our times.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs,U.S.; 1st Edition edition (20 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482619
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,077,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Natan Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident, political prisoner, and human rights icon who has spent his life championing democracy and freedom. He now serves as the Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs in the Israeli Government. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
THESE ARE THE WORDS of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, spoken to a joint session of the United States Congress in the summer of 2003. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and perspicacious work 24 May 2005
Many of us remember Anatoly/Natan Sharansky, who suffered under the Soviet system for his advocacy of freedom. After American presidents Carter and Reagan pressed his case, Mr. Sharansky was finally released by the KGB, and allowed to emigrate to Israel. Having experienced living in a "fear state," where people are forced to support a system that oppresses them, he understands the effects that such a system has, and the power that can be unleashed when it is overthrown.
In this book, Mr. Sharansky shows how tyrannical systems of government are never good governments with which the West can safely interact, but that they create instability and terror, both within their borders and without. He makes the point that the thinkers in the West must come to realize that there is a world of difference between free societies and fear societies, and that to make a peaceful world, the West must make the call for freedom a cornerstone of its foreign relations.
This is a fascinating and perspicacious work, and in it Mr. Sharansky makes a very convincing argument that the West must press for freedom around the globe. He is clear that many governments are far from perfect, but that when a government recognizes basic freedoms, it can and will move towards more freedom and more peaceful relations with the rest of the world. Overall, I found this book to be enlightening and totally convincing, and am quite sure that it reflects a good deal of thinking within the Bush White House.
So if you want to read a fascinating and thought-provoking book, then you must read this book. Also, if you want to understand an underlying thrust of the Bush administrations foreign strategy, then you must read this book. I give it my highest recommendations!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The case for democracy 29 Jan 2005
By "abdce"
Sharansky argues that the best weapon against tyranny is the creation of free societies. He argues that the West can and should intervene, using the tactic of linkage. If a tyrannical regime (presiding over a "fear" society) wants to trade with free societies, such trade must be linked to them changing their human rights record: the population must be able to express their views freely without fear of reprisal.
The most uplifting aspect of the book is Sharansky's narration of the collapse of the soviet union. The most depressing aspect is the hash that he considers everyone - Europe, the US, successive Israeli governments - has made of moving towards a separate Palestinian state. I was feelling quite optimistic about the role of the security fence in removing terrorist violence, but he reminded me that leaving the Palestinian regime to continue as a "fear society" condemns its people to more years of poverty, doublethink, and propaganda.
He makes no connection to the micro-level, but I think his message applies there to. Just as a free, democratic society functions better than a fear-filled dictatorship, which inevitably carries the seeds of its eventual implosion, so a family with authoritarian parents is doomed to disaster as the children defect to freer climes as soon as they have the physical and mental power.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's behind this "Freedom" mantra? 30 Sep 2005
If you want to get a clear and easy to understand explanation of why many Americans use freedoma and democracy in often interchangable roles, read this book. I'm not talking about the highly educated elite, I'm talking about the middle of the road person who experiences, on a daily basis, what it means to be truly free.
My favorite paragraph is when the author discusses how the elite in a free society start to lose perspective about what is truly totalitarian and what is not. The line between a free society and a "fear" society is blured in the elitest mind so that they end up supporting leaders like Castro, Hussein, and others in the guise of what's "right."
Great and easy read for everyone.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Natan Sharansky has written a simple and straightforward book, which brings with it the hope for a brighter world future. In it, he argues that democracy, or, as he describes it "freedom", as defined by a series of simple conditions, will always bring with it security and prosperity. This is a book with a clear message, which ought to be read and owned by anyone interested in diplomacy, politics or the human condition and society. You will not be disappointed, you will not be confused. This is a book which represents an ideology which will grow and grow in the next few years and decades, and could transform the world.
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