Complimentary Comments
Table of Contents
Downloadable Samples
About the Author
Classroom Resources
How to Buy

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


"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"

Andrés Mejía-Vergnaud
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."

Prof.Ángel Rodríguez-Negrón, Chair, Dept. of 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."

David Robinson


"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 to my dreams in making some of my students understand these concepts. It's 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



Other comments:


"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 Libertario (Paraguay)


"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)."

Jorge Corrales


"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 water."

Rudy Rummel, Hawaii


"...a generous and outstanding contribution to the field of Public Choice Theory."

Leon Felkins

"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 economics degree."

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."

Varisa R.


"Thank you for concisely articulating true democracy as both rule of law and the right of appeal to principles.

Roland R. Vosburgh, Hudson, New York


"I've just completed reading your first chapter on public choice and I must say it is one of the best explanations on the topic I have read..."

McPherse Thompson, University of Manchester