Comments on its use as a textbook:
"Intermediate courses in both political science and economics are
generally compulsory and this proposed book would be appropriate for some
of those courses, such as Introduction to Political Choice, Introduction
to Government, or Introduction to Politics (in political science), and
Public Choice or Public Policy (in economics). Most US and Canadian
universities would have one or more of these courses required, or at least
as options...This text actually has a bit broader, and more encompassing,
coverage of standard topics for a typical course or textbook in any of
these courses. It also assumes less knowledge on the part of students than
might be typical in some countries, but not others, so it more thoroughly,
and interestingly, takes a student from the simple to the complex in a way
that will likely increase understanding...The intermediate to advanced
undergraduate level (3rd to 4th year courses) is the
most appropriate level. However, it might be used for 2nd year
courses for students who are very well prepared in general...The major
strength of this [book] is that it sets public choice analysis firmly
within the context of universal democratic institutions. Competing public
choice texts typically assume knowledge of institutions specific to the
USA. A secondary strength, that some public choice scholars (whose
interest is more mathematical) might consider a weakness, is that this
book requires no special mathematical preparation or facility on the part
of the reader. This does not impede the explanation of the most complex
ideas in this field, but, in my view, enhances their explanation...Gunning’s
book is really the best choice for intermediate or advanced level
undergraduate courses in public choice and it is more likely to make the
interdisciplinary jump to adoptions in political science."
Reviewer, major international textbook publisher.
"The book shows a good understanding of the fundamental principles
of public choice. It is clearly written, so it should be understandable to
students, yet it also offers thought-provoking analysis that should keep
good students interested in the ideas. While there are a number of
universities that teach public choice courses, there really is no suitable
book for the course...This book would offer a good foundation for a public
choice course, and likely would be used as the course’s main text. It
gives a good flavor for what public choice is, it is easy to read and
understand, yet it does not talk down to readers...The book offers a
thoughtful and insightful discussion that really allows students a deeper
appreciation for the material than a series of simple models would. I
could easily see using this book as the main textbook in a public choice
course, perhaps supplemented by some outside readings...This book would be
appropriate for undergraduate courses in Public Choice, which normally
would be taught to 3rd and 4th year students. It might also be used as a
supplemental book in political science courses that want to convey the
basic ideas of public choice, or in public policy-oriented courses that
wanted to introduce students to public choice...[t]ere currently is no
acceptable textbook designed for the course. This book would be poised to
capture nearly all of what is a small market...Really, there is no direct
competition. As noted above, the Mitchell and Simmons book is more
ideological, and not a comprehensive public choice textbook. The Stevens
and Johnson books have such a substantial portion devoted to public
finance that they are not acceptable (to me) as textbooks for a public
choice course. As I said, this book could capture nearly all of the small
market for public choice...The book is very well-written. It would be easy
for upper-level undergraduates to understand, but is written to their
level. The clarity of writing is admirable."
Reviewer, major textbook publisher
Chair, Dept. of Social Sciences
"Professor Gunning's book combines three virtues that make an excellent academic
text. First of all, it's clear and easy to understand. Even a person with a small knowledge of economics could understand the book, since the author has taken care of not leaving concepts unexplained. Second, it is synaptic, which allows the reader to have a broad and analytical view of the subject. And third, it presents and explains all relevant points of view in each subject, unlike other texts that only communicate the author's view. In addition, the book provides extensive and clear information that might be useful to the student of economic theory beyond the field of public choice, e.g. the concepts of market failure and public goods. Unlike other academic texts, this book is well-written and this makes the reading easy and enjoyable. For all these reasons, this is my book of "choice" when reading or lecturing about Public Choice"
Director, Instituto Desarrollo y Libertad (Bogotá, Columbia)
"I teach Economics at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao..."Understanding
Democracy"...is an excellent resource for our couses in economics,
politics and introduction to social sciences."
"You state that ‘Understanding Democracy’ was written for a
foreign audience. Many of your references and examples display this. But
it strikes me that the overseas aspect is merely a superficiality. Ages
ago, I taught political science for several years at a state university. I
think your book is an excellent text for any college course that aims to
describe reality, and I hope it will find the wide circulation that it
deserves...Thank you for the time and effort of both composing it and
putting it online where we all can benefit!"
John Hilberg, New Hampshire
"I have been browsing your book for ideas about how to treat
public choice in a third year public finance course at a Canadian
university. (Laurentian Uniiversity, Sudbury Ontario). It is a lovely
piece of work. Thank you especially for the very lucid summaries at the
beginnings of the chapters."
"Congratulations for this excellent accomplishment. I have been
looking around and I am very impressed with your work. It will be very
useful for my academic activities...I will use [Understanding Democracy]
in the Economic Constitutional Law course I teach at the Graduate School
of the Universidad de Lima...I am writing just to let you know that I am
still using [your book] in new university courses, including a graduate
extension course on Institutional Reform."
Jose Luis Sardon, University of Lima
"I've read only the first three chapters, but have found them to
be very good, and would be particularly good for beginning students...[A]ll
in all, a very worthy effort."
Andrew Biggs, Ph.D., Cato Institute
I just accidentally chanced upon your book, Understanding
Democracy just moments ago. It seems to be the answer
dreams in making some of my students understand these concepts.
really succinctly written. Thank you.
Alex M. Mutebi, National
University of Singapore
"Thank you for putting your book on-line. I have been looking for
a text from which my introductory students could read a few chapters. Your
work is much appreciated."
Thomas Cook, North Seattle Community College
must say it is one of the
best explanations on the topic I have read..."
"I've surveyed the field, and you
really do have the best book."
Jon Roland, The Constitution Society
"Perspicuously presented, well published and persuasive (although I am
against the concept). I enjoyed reading it and will recommend the book to
my friends in Oman and Russia to debate different aspects of the "Big Brother" model and, eventually, to falsify it."
Dr. Anwar Kacimov, former
Soviet scientist, now Russian dissident
"You have done a beautiful work...I can tell you now, that it is a
great job you have done."
Porfirio Cristaldo Ayala, Columnist of the ABC newspaper and president of the Foundation Foro
"I am really enjoying your book on Public Choice. My
congratulations for your effort (one student at the University of Costa Rica is using
some sections for her dissertation)."
"I have had the extreme good luck to stumble upon your ‘Understanding
Democracy’...I cannot imagine a more worthy or generous project for you
to be giving to the world at a time like this. As you point out, since WW
II many democracies have come into being, and many have failed; a number
more seem to be about to be birthed out of the war on terrorism (Afganistan,
Iraq, the Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, to name a few candidates). If the
people of all those countries had read your book and taken your course, I
don't think it too outrageous a supposition to believe that they may well
have all ‘succeeded’ in building successful democracies."
Timothy Condon, Attorney at Law, Florida
"I have finished your Chapter 9 that you sent. It was one of the
best for giving me a good feel for your use of "efficiency" and
"public goods", and your logic...I came away from the chapter
wondering as a result of your analysis why one would want to live in a
democracy. If, as you show, majority rule, legislative voting,
supramajority rule, and the tax system are as inefficient and causes such
maldistribution of public goods as they do, then what is the alternative?
Or, how can democracy be changed to make the outcomes more desirable? I
fear that some students reading this chapter might become quite
anti-democratic--in effect, throwing the baby out with the bath
Rudy Rummel, Hawaii
"...a generous and outstanding contribution to the field of Public Choice
"Very nice work. I'm an attorney and graduate student in public
health and I've been looking for something basic on public choice. Your web book
is the best introductory material I've seen. Thank you."
Jason W. Manne
"Your chapters on the internet regarding public choice are very
informative...[Y]our book is proving to be a very good resource for my
Jason Simons, University of Wales, Swansea, UK
"I am a graduate student in MA Public Administration and Public
Policy at the University of York, England. I had to do one paper about
public choice so I used the search engine to find more information about
public choice theory, and I 've found your website. It is very useful for
me because you wrote it in brief and it is easy to understand."
"Thank you for concisely articulating
true democracy as both rule of law and the right of appeal to
Roland R. Vosburgh, Hudson, New York
"I've just completed reading your first chapter on public
choice and I
McPherse Thompson, University of Manchester