Cover: Democracy: A Case Study, from Harvard University PressCover: Democracy in HARDCOVER


A Case Study

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Product Details


$36.00 • £28.95 • €32.50

ISBN 9780674971455

Publication Date: 02/21/2017


784 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 illus., 19 tables

Belknap Press


Moss makes [his] argument in his brilliant introductory and concluding chapters, while the core of the book consists of 19 cases from throughout U.S. history that exemplify the complexity of political conflict.—Suzanne Mettler, Foreign Affairs

If this book does not read like a prediction of the present, then perhaps its sangfroid will nevertheless suit the reader with nerves jangled by the news. David Moss suggests we ought to be overdefensive of democracy; he recommends a salutary ‘political hypochondria.’ It seems an appropriate neurosis for the moment.—Eric Rauchway, The Times Literary Supplement

This set of well-documented, accessible essays presents the prickly challenges facing the rapidly changing American democracy, for lawmakers and citizens alike… A sterling educational tool that offers a fresh presentation of how ‘democracy in America has always been a contact sport.’Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Democracy should command the attention of teachers and students of all ages… Moss’s case studies are engagingly written, well researched, rich in content and context… Moss believes that fierce political conflicts can be constructive if they are mediated by shared ideals. He seems to demonstrate, moreover, that in a world in which ‘alternative facts’ are gaining traction, an informed understanding of the past can help us identify pathways to a prosperous and just democracy.—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post

It’s hard to imagine a timelier book, given America’s tumultous 2016 elections, than this eminently readable survey of political disputes.Publishers Weekly

This absolutely splendid book is a triumph on every level. A first-rate history of the United States, it is beautifully written, deeply researched, and filled with entertaining stories. For anyone who wants to see our democracy flourish, this is the book to read.—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals and The Bully Pulpit

Brilliantly adapting the provocative format of the Harvard Business School’s case study method, Democracy: A Case Study challenges readers to think anew on topics ranging from James Madison’s quest for a workable federalism to such modern flashpoints as the power of the Federal Reserve and the Citizens United decision. Each episode is crisp and compelling, entertaining and inspiring. The effect is nothing less than to open the gates of our most elite university to the reading public.—Roger Lowenstein, author of America’s Bank

Democracy: A Case Study gives us the facts of key controversies in our history—from the adoption of the Constitution to Citizens United—and invites readers to decide for themselves. This novel approach makes American history a valuable resource for civic education.—Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice and What Money Can’t Buy

In this powerfully provocative exploration of the nation’s core political values, David Moss shows why after more than two centuries we cannot take democracy for granted. Drawing on a number of well-selected case studies, he invites readers to interrogate the fundamental assumptions that have informed our civil society since the ratification of the Constitution.—Timothy H. Breen, coauthor of Colonial America in an Atlantic World

If we are going to breathe new life into democracy, there is no better way to begin than by reacquainting ourselves with our history. David Moss does this brilliantly in Democracy: A Case Study. Through well-chosen examples, drawn from his case-method course at Harvard, he helps us to understand the paths chosen and not chosen, and how each generation has adapted to new realities. Democracy may be something of a contact sport, as he argues, but we can play the game better if we understand the rules and why they keep changing. This timely book goes a long way toward that end.—Ted Widmer, Brown University

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams, from Harvard University Press

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Part II

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re showcasing titles that document the Asian American experience. Our second excerpt comes from Beth Lew-Williams’s prizewinning book The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, which historian Richard White describes as “a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely.” Monday night, Gong was asleep in his tent when the vigilantes returned