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Date Published:Jan 1, 2001
"The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government. The differences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the differences between those countries whose politics embodies consensus, community, legitimacy, organization, effectiveness, stability, and those countries whose politics is deficient in these qualities." So begins Samuel P. Huntington's 'Political Order in Changing Societies,' one of the most widely influential and insightful books on comparative politics ever written. Its concern is normative as well as analytic. In a retrospective comment on his own writing, Huntington has noted, "I wrote [Political Order] because I thought political order was a good thing." Moreover, he added, his "purpose was to develop a general social science theory of why, how, and under what circumstances order could and could not be achieved."