Democracy is easy to talk about but hard to define in other than broad generalizations; its history is a long, complex, and contested subject. What this volume seeks to do is to explore the general evolution of political and social thinking that would eventually coalesce into what we now know as democracy, for all its imperfections and shortcomings. The question of just why some societies evolved into a democratic trajectory and others did not continues to engage the interest of historians, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists. Much conjecture surrounds the rise of certain elements we now recognize if not as democratic, then proto-democratic, such as collective decision-making, constraints on the exercise of power and a degree of accountability of the ruler to the ruled. If democracy in the sense of "rule by the people" has two essential qualities - rule by the majority and the equal treatment of free citizens - then its origins, however feeble, are to be found in these early examples of government.
Historical Dictionary of Democracy contains a chronology, an introduction, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 600 cross-referenced entries. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about democracy.