In This Review

Democracy, Revolution, and History
Democracy, Revolution, and History
Edited by Theda Skocpol
Cornell University Press, 1998, 273 pp

Over 30 years ago, Harvard's Barrington Moore published his landmark study, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, which tracked the decisive social and economic developments in England, France, the United States, Germany, Japan, and India over several hundred years and explored their consequences for the twentieth century. This collection of papers by leading social scientists, many of whom were Moore's students and colleagues, revives the debate over his scholarship. The essays generally argue that his method -- the focus on shifting class alliances through history -- remains appropriate. However, most scholars today also call for the consideration of other factors, such as party organization, intellectual elites, transnational relations, and geopolitics. Intriguing essays on the EU and the American promotion of democracy abroad also underscore the continued relevance of Moore's vision. In his spirit, the book does not offer a grand unifying theory of political development, but demonstrates the usefulness of comparative historical inquiry in understanding the paths a nation can take toward modern liberal democracy.