Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America

Books on Tape. Sept. 2023. 8:29 hrs. ISBN 9780593789483. $85.50. HIST
Boston College historian Richardson (To Make Men Free) argues that America is teetering on the brink of authoritarianism. In this self-narrated book, she describes the evolution of democracy in the United States and attempts to subvert it, both past and present. Because democracy was considered a radical idea in the 18th century, early lawmakers created an intricate system to ensure it would endure. However, once democracy was established, continuous work was required to prevent its subversion. Periodically, factions of wealthy individuals tried to take control of the U.S. government to establish authoritarian rule. With a clear, purposeful tone, Richardson supports her argument, citing policies of the Reagan era, such as trickle-down economics, that contrast with the democratic, bottom-up approaches of the New Deal. Richardson links past attacks on democracy to similar attempts by today’s radical political factions and reminds listeners that citizens must be engaged in the political process to maintain their rights and freedoms. Although her narration of the audiobook is measured, listeners may sense her outrage as she describes how psychological manipulation and propaganda have fomented support for authoritarian leaders.
VERDICT Richardson’s judicious approach makes complex political issues understandable. Readers of political history and current political affairs should find this book most informative.
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