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The living and evolving history of democracy from the ancient world to the twentieth century.

Synopsis

Discerning the future of democracy begins with understanding its past.

In this historical and telling guide, Richard C. Lyons documents the rise and fall of political power across time and place. Chronicling a wide range of governments and rulers, he outlines past democracies, tyrants, and kings while providing a comprehensive look at their successes and failures. Warfare and corruption mark democracy as a historical work in progress, but never a hopeless one.

Just as DNA is woven into every aspect of the human body, countries, city-states, and rulers are the DNA that have shaped democracy today. From Israel’s Ten Commandments and Greece’s city-states to Italy’s Twelve Tables and the crowns of the British Isles, Lyons traces democracy from its historical roots to modern day, constructing a blueprint for successful government and leadership in The DNA of Democracy.

Richard C. Lyons' The DNA of Democracy is an engaging discussion of the history of democracy. A large section of the book is devoted to American democracy and some of its failings like slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. Another large percentage of the book concerns the development of British democracy. The reader will also experience the familiar roots of democracy in Greece and Rome. Lyons also tries to fit the Old Testament in the mix with less success.


The discussion of democracy and tyranny presents an interesting comparison. One may believe that there is a vast separation between the two types of governments, but often they switch slowly and other times quickly. Political philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is celebrated as the Father of Modern Democracy. He is also known as the Father of Modern Tyranny by the same writings. Many things do separate the two forms of government. Art, universities, (freedom of) religion, and the press thrive in democracies and stagnate under tyranny. Capitalism and open markets also thrive in democratic or free societies and are controlled or eliminated under tyranny.  


Lyons presents and discusses twelve masterpieces and four amendments to the US Constitution.  Old world codes are represented by the Ten Commandments, the Constitutions of Athens and Rome, and The Twelve Tablets. Codifying the laws and the foundations of civilizations ensured that they could not easily be changed. Three amendments to the US Constitution required a civil war before they were passed. The 19th Amendment essentially doubled the number of eligible voters and took nearly one hundred and fifty years to allow women to participate in our democracy.  


The DNA of Democracy demonstrates that democracy resembles living DNA. It evolves. It adapts. At times it mutates into something that resembles democracy but is actually a cancer attacking freedom. Democracy is an ideal that man is working to achieve. It is not always easy, and there are failures. It is, however, the history of mankind. 

Reviewed by

Joseph Spuckler has a Masters Degree in International Relations and a deep appreciation for poetry and Modernist writers. He is a Marine Corps veteran and works as a mechanic devoting his off hours for motorcycling and reviewing poetry. Originally from Cleveland, he currently resides in Dallas.

Synopsis

Discerning the future of democracy begins with understanding its past.

In this historical and telling guide, Richard C. Lyons documents the rise and fall of political power across time and place. Chronicling a wide range of governments and rulers, he outlines past democracies, tyrants, and kings while providing a comprehensive look at their successes and failures. Warfare and corruption mark democracy as a historical work in progress, but never a hopeless one.

Just as DNA is woven into every aspect of the human body, countries, city-states, and rulers are the DNA that have shaped democracy today. From Israel’s Ten Commandments and Greece’s city-states to Italy’s Twelve Tables and the crowns of the British Isles, Lyons traces democracy from its historical roots to modern day, constructing a blueprint for successful government and leadership in The DNA of Democracy.

Preface

What a rare jewel exists in our midst: one that we see

before our eyes, that we hold in our hands, that we

sense in our very souls! Our democracy is as singular as the Earth

itself: to our knowledge, the sole inhabitable life-bearing sphere

throughout the dark of countless light-years. Our democracy,

since its beginnings, has been a light for all to see. It is the most

self-consciously created form of government in human history,

its rights and freedoms founded so as to produce living fountains

of creativity in all the arts, the sciences, the crafts and trades

and industries that together comprise the pathways of human

aspiration and achievement.

Our American history is a chronicle worthy of celebration. Our

nation‚Äôs fruits, in their kind and number, are unprecedented‚ÄĒ

and they proceed, each and all, from our system of individual

liberties. Our liberties have indeed earned the characterization

of sacred and are supremely worthy of saving.

But, as any candid observer who has lived thoughtfully over

sufficient years would observe, and as the author has found:


There’s somethin’ happening here

And what it is ain’t exactly clear...


Buffalo Springfield


This author has found it imperative, as a citizen, having studied

something of history and human character, to undertake a labor

intended to bring clarity to the understanding of our present

state of government, informed by the sobering knowledge that

democracy itself need not end with enormous explosions; it

may be smothered in gathering silences. Democracy need not be

killed in overt acts of war; it may perish through what appear

to be kindnesses. Democracy need not fall visibly, noisily and

dramatically; it may crumble, by imperceptible degrees, before

disappearing. Democracy need not be crushed by foreign foes; it

may collapse under many slight assaults, given and received by

its own citizens, whose acts serve an end of societal implosion.

Democracy can end. Liberty can be lost. The most remarkable

system of government that this most remarkable world has ever

wrought‚ÄĒthis jewel‚ÄĒmay return to dust.

If you are as interested as I in exploring the brilliance and

assuring the continued vigor of democracy, I invite you to join

me in a not-overlong literary journey. This series of histories

and commentary visits first the various kinds of devised

governments, then the most prevalent kind, and finally the

rarest and most challenging kind: a government of, by and for

the people. Come along as we travel the currents of history,

examining the seeds and roots of our democracy in ancient

Israel and Athens, observing their flower in the republican

era of Rome and watching their powerful pull toward explicit

liberty under England’s monarchy. And then we travel to a novel

world, where established European perceptions were turned

upside down by the witness of councils governing the Iroquois

and Cherokee tribes. In this moment of history we will sample

the writings of philosophers and poets on both sides of the

Atlantic who found echoes in these Amerindian councils of the

glory of Athens. Then we will visit the greatest, most rebellious

generation of Americans who ever drew breath in defiance; who

devoted their lands and their liberties, their fortunes and their

labors, their honor and their lives, to fight for and forge a new

system of governance, founded on individual liberty for the

welfare of all, which they intended to survive for the benefit of

all future generations on this continent, and to form an example

for the benefit of the world.

We will visit the Civil War period in America, when a

tragedy of unimaginable scope consumed the nation, as our

democracy had to suffer into becoming herself, in a fulfillment

of democracy’s promise.

We will then recount the Civil War’s opposite: the orderly

function of democracy as witnessed in the success of the

Women’s Suffrage movement.

So, let’s take a great ride through vignettes of history,

rediscovering ideas that were millennia in the making. Join in

a journey through historical passages, legendary and real, that

formed the foundation of our country. Meet the personalities of

America whose defiance became the cradle of a great democracy!

Consider and appreciate the inventive scope of American artistry

and enterprise that helps define our being.


Come, let us join in a journey of exposition and definition of

the DNA of Democracy.

About the author

Richard C. Lyons is the award-winning author behind The DNA of Democracy, Volume 1 of Shadows of the Acropolis series. His first book, ‚ÄúBut By Chance of War,‚ÄĚ won a Nautilus Book Award and a Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award. He lives in Sarasota, Florida. view profile

Published on May 14, 2019

Published by

120000 words

Genre: Political science

Reviewed by

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