Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book review: Bruce Jacobs’ Democratizing Taiwan

Taiwanese students hold an all-night protest on Jan. 1
An important and accessible addition to a relatively small body of literature that looks at the unique experiment of Taiwan’s emergence as a democracy 

Longtime Taiwan watcher Bruce Jacobs is back with a book that looks at the minutiae of Taiwan’s long journey from colonial property, authoritarian subject to imperfect democracy, in a work that makes a solid contribution to the field of Taiwan studies.

It is important to establish from the outset what Democratizing Taiwan is and what it isn’t. What it isn’t is a scholarly volume on how Taiwan democratized, or to what extent the various conditions that are essential to the emergence of democracy interacted to allow the country’s 23 million people to transition peacefully from authoritarian rule to democracy. While Chapter One, How Taiwan Became Democratic, briefly addresses the matter and endeavors to distinguish between democratization and liberalization and does highlight some of the-then factors that led to democratization, readers who seek in-depth research into democratic development in Taiwan will have to look elsewhere.

My review, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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