Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy [Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson] on Amazon.com. What forces lead to democracy's creation? Why does it sometimes consolidate only to collapse at other times? Written by two of the foremost authorities on this subject in the world
I think that the general conclusions that these two reached are most excellent and accurate to how things work in the empirical world.
used linear economic equations and the principle of Occam's Razor to overly simplify and inaccurately demonstrate the roots of the phenomenon that they otherwise did a good job of describing. Personally, I would have chosen to use case studies and surveys of case studies to get as fine an image as is possible of what is happening in as many cases as possibles, in order to generalize upon the basics characteristics, functions, and dynamics in basically democratic and non-democratic societies.
I would have also liked to have seen a little more about how culture influences political, social, and economic choices, because it seems to me, at the very least, that culture: collective and individual interpretations of consciousness and the world that is around us, is at the roots of how we see the world and make decisions with regards to the world over rational and optimal decisions.
Culture is, for example, one of the key reasons that the US will not likely adapt for an extended period of time a collective, authoritarian system of government that many East Asian societies adopt. Even in "democratic" East Asian societies, there is much more deference to the top leadership and collective needs in business and in society than there is in the more egalitarian and individualistic United States. This changes the ways we individually and collectively make decisions as a society, which is one of the chief questions at the root of political science and economics.
A most interesting book.