Jim Miller came to Oakland last week to promote his latest book and I had the pleasure to introduce him at a book presentation organized by Timothy Don at the Starline Social Club in Oakland. It was the night of the election and we were in a space next to the barroom. So, as the evening proceeded, we could hear the moans and cheers from the bar as election results were coming in. It sounded like democracy at work while we were talking about its history, theory, and prospects.
Miller’s book is an exhilarating roller-coaster history of democracy, tracing its vertiginous ups and downs from ancient Athens to the present. The story is told in a vigorous, bracing fashion. It spells out the ideals that have propelled democratic activists but it also describes the turmoil, chaos, and bloodshed that have accompanied the history of democracy.