AEI’s Arnold Kling offers this review of two important books about the rule of law and the spread of Western democracy.

In the United States we take peaceful, democratic elections for granted. Because we think of our form of government as clearly superior, we expect that other countries will to be able to readily adopt it.

Two recent books by social scientists raise questions about the ease of the transition to democratic institutions. Both Violence and Social Orders, by Douglass North, Barry Weingast, and John Wallis, and The Origins of Political Order, by Francis Fukuyama, suggest that natural patterns of human organization must be overcome in order to create a modern liberal democracy.