Book Review: On Attacking and Defending American Democracy

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Public Administration Review


Democracy has been an idea of ongoing concern for American public administration ever since its inception as a self-conscious field of inquiry. Indeed, it can be argued that the academic field of public administration in America arose originally out of the question as to how best to reconcile the requirements for an efficient and energetic public administration with the values of democracy. In light of this, the new book by Alasdair Roberts, himself a prominent contributor to public administration discourse, will likely be of interest to readers concerned about the relationship between public administration and democracy. Roberts’s book deals with the periodic crises of democracy as a form of government that have arisen over the past century or so in the United States, or what he terms moments of “democratic malaise” and what we can learn from them. These moments were, in his words, “moments when there were real doubts about whether democratic institutions could be established at all, whether those institutions were capable of managing public affairs competently, and whether democracies could defend themselves from internal and external threats”.

Original Citation

Spicer, M. W. (2017), On Attacking and Defending American Democracy. Public Admin Rev, 77: 454–457. doi:10.1111/puar.12764







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