Given the almost universal assumption that democracy is a 'good thing', the goal of mankind, it is easy to forget that 'rule by the people' has been vehemently opposed by some of the most distinguished thinkers in the Western tradition. The author attempts to combat collective amnesia bysystematically exploring and evaluating anti-democratic thought since the French Revolution. Using categories first introduced by A. O. Hirschman in The Rhetoric of Reaction, Femia examines the various arguments under the headings of 'perversity', 'futility', and 'jeopardy'. This classificationscheme enables him to highlight the fatalism and pessimism of anti-democratic thinkers, their conviction that democratic reform would be either pointless or destructive. Femia shows how they failed to understand the adaptability of democracy, its ability to co-exist with the traditional and elitistvalues. But, controversially, he also argues that some of their predictions and observations have been confirmed by history.