Interesting ideas, mediocre arguments

July 9, 2003
Fareed Zakaria’s The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad is short, easy to digest and full of interesting ideas. His writing style is light and easy to follow. However some of his research is also on the light side. His version of history is full of platitudes and conventional wisdom and short on solid thinking and research. His conclusions about the Middle Ages and Islamic cultures are interesting but dubious. He is at his best when analyzing the recent and the superficial: pop culture, evangelical religion and the news media.

Even though his premises are weak, and his arguments are suspect; his conclusions are interesting and may have some merit (although probably not for the reasons he suggests). If you get tired of his over-simplified Newsweek view of world events and politics skip ahead to the concluding chapter, “The Way Out” for some ideas that are worth thoughtful, serious consideration. Unfortunately, the thoughtful, serious consideration will have to come in some other book, probably by some other author.

The book makes for fun non-fiction summer reading. The wealth of ideas and the simplicity of expression would make “The Future of Freedom” an interesting selection for reading and book discussion groups. While an easy and enjoyable read, I cannot help but think that this book should have been much more.

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~ by severalfourmany on July 9, 2003.

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