Our Book of the Month choice for January

The SSL ‘Book of the Month’ feature highlights a book in our collection that has been chosen by one of our Subject Consultants. This may be a recent addition to our stock or an existing item that we would like to share with you.


Against elections: the case for democracy

David Van Reybrouck

The Bodley Head, 2016

Shelfmark: JC423.VAN 2016




Our Book of the Month choice for January has been selected by Jo Gardner, Bodleian Social Science Librarian and Subject Consultant for Politics and International Relations.



Why was it chosen?

The choice was inspired by the results of recent elections: These include the appointment of fear-mongering populists, distrust, and personality contests instead of reasoned debate.

Book Overview

In Against Elections, David Van Reybrouck argues that the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them. Yet for most of its 3000-year history, democracy did not involve elections at all; members of the public were appointed to positions in government through a combination of volunteering and lottery. The author references studies and cases from around the world to present a compelling case for ‘true’ democracy.


 ‘In compelling us to subject all our received ideas and deeply-held convictions to rigorous scrutiny, this fine iconoclastic work could not be more timely.’
Karen Armstrong

‘A sovereign remedy for the raging crypto-oligarchy of our turbulent times.’
Paul Cartledge, Emeritus Professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University and author of Democracy : A Life.

‘Cogently and persuasively, David Van Reybrouck pleads for a return to selection by lot, and outlines a range of well thought out plans for how sortitive democracy might be implemented.. it may well be an idea whose time has come.’
J. M. Coetzee

Where can I find it?

We have one copy, which can be borrowed. It is currently displayed on top of our New Books Display Area (located around the corner from our Library Issue Desk). You are welcome to remove it from the display and borrow it. The shelfmark for the title is JC423.VAN 2016

What would your SSL Book of the Month be? Do you have a favourite book in our collection? If so, we would love to know what it is. Add a comment below or email us.

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