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Kings or People

Power and the Mandate to Rule

Reinhard Bendix (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 704 pages
ISBN: 9780520040908
April 1980
$39.95, £29.95
From the Preface:
The world in which we live has its roots far back in history, and as a world power America must come to terms with countries which were formed in their present mold long before the American, revolution. All those to whom an exploration of this historical background will appeal probably share with me an immediate empathy with the anguish of nation-building around the world. This book is a study of what that anguish meant in times past when countries were first developing their political institutions and when they turned more recently from royal authority to a popular mandate. The problems of developing such institutions are formidable, then as well as now. A scholarly concern with these problems must touch on many subjects in social stratification, religion, political sociology, and the history of ideas, and the book treats these and related themes in their specific historical contexts. This interpretive work is addressed not only to students of political development but also to the general reader who is interested in a large view of history. That reader is provided with sufficient detail and annotation so that the many diverse contexts with which this study deals can be understood. A thematic outline of the book is presented on the first pages of the introduction, which deals as well with the reasons for my approach to historical sociology.
List of Maps

1. Introduction

Part I: The Authority of Kings
2. Sacred and Secular Foundations of Kingship
3. Japan
4. Russia
5. Imperial Germany and Prussia
6. England
7. Kingship and Aristocracy as a Type of Rule

Part II: Toward a Mandate of the People
8. Transformations of Western European Societies in the Sixteenth Century
9. Kings and People in England
10. Toward the Nation-State: France
11. Nation-Building: Germany
12. Nation-Building: Japan
13. Nation-Building: Russia
14. From Royal Authority to Popular Mandate: Twentieth-Century Perspectives

"A brilliant achievement that will be equally fascinating for the general reader, the student and the specialized scholar." --Henry W . Ehrmann "Reinhard Bendix has written a major comparative account of the history of five countries, seeking to determine which factors made possible the rise of royal authority in the early period of their development and which factors accounted for the emergence more recently of political practices and institutions legitimized by the will of the people . . . . The author has conducted his inquiry with skill, intelligence, and vast learning. Here and there the reader will hear echoes and overtones of Arnold Toynbee and William H. McNeill, less in the conclusions that are reached than in the questions asked and the techniques employed. This is comparative history in the grand tradition, bold, challenging, scholarly, and ingenious. . . . The book rests on a solid mastery of the historical  literature, analyzed and interpreted by a sharp mind ... . I remain impressed by the bold purposes and sharp insights of the book. It offers an analysis of the process of political modernization that is original, perceptive, and generally convincing."--Theodore S. Hamerow, American Historical Review "This is an important book . . . intended to make the point that the modernization of today's great nations followed unique courses,' in which each stage influenced but didn't determine the succeeding stage, and in which creativity, imitation, and diffusion are important factors . ... This affirmation of the unique is a useful corrective to the oversimplified model building which has characterized recent work in the field of development and modernization . . . . Surely Kings or People will quickly take its place in courses in comparative politics, political development, and political sociology . . . A teacher will treat this book as a treasure-house of examples and illustration; the general reader will find this a lucidly written introduction to world political history."--Gabriel A. Almond, California Monthly "Kings or People is equal to the grandeur of its subject: the political origins of the modern world. With Barrington Moore's Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modern World System which it matches in boldness, while  differing radically in perspective, it is one of the truly powerful ventures in comparative historical sociology to have appeared in recent years."--Clifford Geertz "Reinhard Bendix has combined the particular approach with the general one, by studying the history of five separate countries and by demonstrating how the experience of each represented a critical stage in the general transformation of authority which, in turn, influenced the process of change in others . . . . A remarkable achievement on all counts."--Gordon A. Craig, Stanford University "No one seriously interested in political development in any nation in the world can afford to neglect this tremendous scholarly achievement or fail to come to grips with the ideas it contains. Kings or People will continue to be read after most of the contemporary literature on comparative politics is long and deservedly forgotten."--Victor Ferkiss, Perspective

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