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Today, the basic ideas underpinning democracy—that government exists for the benefit of the people, and that it must have their consent to be legitimate—may seem obvious. Even dictators pay lip service to these ideas. But the logic of democracy hasn't always been widely accepted. In fact, throughout most of recorded history, nearly all rulers claimed absolute authority. This book traces the long evolution of government "by the people," from its roots in the ancient world to the present day.