Robert J. Samuelson

IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD: TOUGH CHOICES FROM WALL STREET TO WASHINGTON By Robert E. Rubin and Jacob Weisberg (Random House, 427 pp., $35) THE CHASTENING: INSIDE THE CRISIS THAT ROCKED THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM AND HUMBLED THE IMF, Revised and Updated By Paul Blustein (PublicAffairs, 435 pp., $18)  THE ROARING NINETIES: A NEW HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST PROSPEROUS DECADE By Joseph E. Stiglitz (W.W.

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THE UNITED STATES invented modern democracy and has practiced it longer and more successfully than any other nation. For all its flaws, it works remarkably well. While mediating among the jumbled interests of a geographically, ethnically, racially, religiously, and economically diverse nation, it has preserved both freedom and stability. When asked about their political leaders, Americans {according to public opinion polls) often hold their noses.

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