First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
4.86 X 0.87 X 7.06 inches | 0.64 pounds
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About the Author

Paul Woodruff is Darrel K. Royal Professor in Ethics and American Society and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of the popular book Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue.


"Paul Woodruff takes us to where democracy began--as a beautiful idea--and brings us all the way to the present moment of peril and the challenge we face to fulfil the dream."--Bill Moyers

"Paul Woodruff writes with eloquence and plain truth across 2500 years of history, from Athens to America, in pursuit of the most powerful, most beautiful, and most elusive idea ever devised by Man: the idea of democracy."--William Broyles Jr., author of Brothers in Arms: A Journey from War to Peace, and screenwriter of Cast Away and Apollo 13

"This book is a masterpiece. It's a heartfelt story of the birth, life and death of real democracy in ancient Athens and, by implication, its country cousin in America. Woodruff distills the essence of authentic democracy and conveys that to us through a compelling narration. He subtly compares how modern American democracy has collapsed, as did Athens, because of imperial overreach and betrayal of democratic ideals by ambitious elites. He correctly concludes, with a fervent hope, that America's future salvation lies in finding a way to be true to Athens at its best." --Ted Becker, Alumni Professor of Political Science, Auburn University

"This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and erudition of the analysis. It is a beautiful book."--Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History