Democracy Works: Norman Eisen's Love Letter to Democracy

Nov 26, 2018

Norman Eisen
Credit Norman Eisen

There are a lot of books about democracy filling book store and library shelves right now. Norman Eisen could have written one of those books, but chose to go in a different direction.

In The Last Palace, he tells the story of the Petschek Palace, where he lived while serving as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. The palace and its residents sought to defend liberal democracy throughout both world wars and the Cold War. The book, which one review called a "love letter to liberal democracy," also shows the ways in which ambassadors do the hard work of democracy abroad.

Eisen describes the cycles of democracy that occurred as public support waxed and waned over the years. He says that we are now at an inflection point that will determine support for liberal democracy moving forward. Ever the optimist, he's confident that democracy will come through this seemingly dark period to triumph once again.

Eisen is a senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings and chair of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington. Prior to becoming ambassador, he advised the Obama administration on ethics — a job that earned him the unofficial title "ethics czar."