The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy Hardcover – 5 Sep 2013
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Consistently illuminating ... admirably balanced ... An exploration of democracy's ills that anyone concerned with the current state of the world will benefit from reading. It is a book that addresses universal questions (John Gray New Statesman)
Coggan puts his argument together logically and methodically ... His conclusions are sensible and moderate ... It is rather a nice change to read a book which could best be described as a mild rebuke or a gentle warning. In essence, its author is getting a little Joni Mitchell about representative democracy (David Aaronovitch The Times)
[Praise for Paper Promises]: This book stands way above anything written on the present economic crisis (Nassim Taleb, author of 'The Black Swan')
Bold and confident ... This book should be taken very seriously (John Authers Financial Times)
About the Author
Philip Coggan was a Financial Times journalist for over twenty years, and is now the Buttonwood columnist for the Economist. In 2009 he was named Senior Financial Journalist in the Harold Wincott awards and was voted Best Communicator at the Business Journalist of the Year Awards. He is the author of The Money Machine, and Paper Promises, winner of the Spears Business Book of the Year Award and longlisted for the Financial Times Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.
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Top Customer Reviews
But this book's a dud.
Don't get me wrong, Philip Coggan's genius has not gone AWOL. It's fully on display. Page 87, for example, has a one-line description of the Great Depression: "..in 1929 ... an American economic slowdown caused the supply of credit to Germany to slow up. Banks collapsed, along with consumer and business confidence.." For those of us not paying attention he follows up with "The ensuing Great Depression was a huge challenge, both to governments of the day and to prevailing economic theory. Industrial production fell 25% in Britain and France and more than 40% in the US and Germany. Unemployment rose to 25% in the US and more than 50% elsewhere."
So the man is brilliant. But when I read a book I expect three things. I want to learn. I want to be challenged. And I hope to be entertained. "The Last Vote" fails on all three fronts. I read the whole thing and I can say I have learned absolutely nothing. And (with one exception I promise I'll get to) I have found nary a sentence, word or exclamation mark to disagree with. So I was not entertained, then, either.
Only two conclusions can follow from the above observation. Either Philip Coggan and myself find ourselves at a nirvana from where we can clearly see all the answers, or this book fails to ask enough questions. I'm afraid it's the latter.Read more ›
But this book is much more than a crystal clear critique of the current threats to democracy - rising government liabilities, campaign financing by vested interests, and voter apathy. Coggan brings political history alive by tracing the tortuous evolution towards one person one vote. This is a gripping narrative strategy, but also a compelling case for the thesis that power is deeply reluctant to loosen its reins. Often, when we think of the history of suffrage, the civil rights movement and the suffragettes spring to mind. But the battle is centuries old and has afflicted every social group and class, bar the monarchy.
As is typical of Coggan's work, the writing is superb: clear, articulate and jargon-free. There are also astonishing facts. For example, it took until 1971 for women in Switzerland to obtain the right to vote (and one third of the all-male electorate voted against).
Coggan concludes with an appeal for us to treat each vote as if it were our last. After reading this book it will be hard not to.
This excellent book outlines the parlous state of democracy, and the threats and challenges it faces. This book makes sobering reading for anyone who subscribes to the view "Don't vote - it only encourages them".
He argues with a severe sense of urgency, intellect and authority that is infectious. He is able to digest and convey complex political, historical and economic ideas and examples into layman's terms for the populous to contemplate. The mark of a great author. This book is pertinent, staunchly researched and confident in its ability to start a serious debate about our political systems, examining them from a economic, social and historical context.
It is so refreshing to be able to actually learn something from someone who actually knows their stuff, but without it being tainted by some sort of warped bias. Excellent read!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Important survey of the current threats to freedom as it has been known in the West for last 70 years or so.Published on 9 Feb. 2014 by jpm
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