Democracy has never been more popular. It is successfully practiced today in a myriad of different ways by people across virtually every cultural, religious or socio-economic context. The 45 original essays collected in this companion suggest that the global popularity of democracy derives in part from its breadth and depth in the common history of human civilization. It sets a benchmark as the first collection on the history of democracy to present lesser known examples, such as those of ancient China, medieval Islam, colonial Africa or today's Burma, alongside more familiar cases like Athens, the English Parliament, the French Revolution and Women's Suffrage.
Undersdtanding where democracy comes from, and where its greatest successes and most dismal failures lie, is central to democracy's project of inventing ways to address the need of people everywhere to live in peace and freedom and with a say in the decisions that affect their lives.