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How Democracies Die

What History Reveals About Our Future
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, read by Fred Sanders.

Two Harvard professors explain the dangerous world we face today. Democracies can die with a coup d'état - or they can die slowly. This happens most deceptively when in piecemeal fashion, with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition. All three steps are being taken around the world - not least with the election of Donald Trump - and we must all understand how we can stop them.

In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw insightful lessons from across history - from the rule of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the quiet undermining of Turkey's constitutional system by President Recip Erdogan - to shine a light on regime breakdown across the 20th and 21st centuries. Notably they point to the dangers of an authoritarian leader faced with a major crisis.

Based on years of research, they present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties and individuals. History doesn't repeat itself. But we can protect our democracy by learning its lessons before it's too late.

©2018 Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A timely book

An excellent essay on the political situation in USA. Equally relevant for other democracies around the world, particularly those like India which are susceptible to autocracy.

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 17-08-18

insightful

Thoroughly insightful on the deliberate tear down of democratic systems of governments... historical and current approaches.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jaydson Gomes
  • 10-01-20

A book about a frightening global pattern

For anyone who can see a frightening global pattern in politics and democracy in recent years, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future.
The authors, both political scientists and professors at Harvard, are accurate in presenting the obvious: There are structural flaws in our democracy.
The most critical point - and the one that impacted me the most - was the fact that undemocratic governments seized power through democracy.
It is an amazing paradox and throughout Steven and Daniel’s narrative it is clear that we are on the verge of collapse.

The book makes a great parallel with Trump in the US and the advancement of the far right in Europe and Latin America with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in the 30s and also the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s.
The approach is interesting, showing that sometimes democracies are gradually eroded and sometimes this happen even unintentionally.
There are many cases where power becomes more important than the democratic process itself and this is a sign of the decline.

Authoritarianism seems to be the cornerstone of the fall of a democracy.
The authors make an analysis, looking at history, showing us how easy it is to identify authoritarians and their behaviors.
It is striking to see that in the US - where we were supposed to have the most solid of democracies - Trump followed the authoritarian imaginary handbook strictly.
Even the authors make it very clear that Trump was the only presidential candidate who broke all barriers and used every possible “technique” that characterizes a dictator.
Some of the characteristics are as follows: Attacking the media, refuting election results, threatening competing candidates, violence in speech.
Any resemblance to any other government? 🤔 (I’m from Brazil).

The foundations of democracy are very fragile.
Steven and Daniel stress that two basic norms must be followed for a democracy to work well: mutual toleration e forbearance.
Mutual toleration means you should accept that a political opponent is legitimate. It is accepting that rivals are also loyal citizens.
Forbearance is the act of not exercising a certain legal power, and this may be more difficult. Imagine that in the US the president has the power to pardon any crime at any time.

The conclusion is that Trump is not the problem but the symptom. The problem is much deeper.

While reading “How Democracies Die” was daunting, it was also very rewarding.
The analysis, counterpoints and comparisons with history made me reflect a lot on the current moment we are living in Brazil.
Democracy may be broken at some parts and there will always be those who will try to bring it down for good, but an even more democratic and fair future is possible.

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  • John Adams
  • 09-04-19

Failure to take into account US hegemony when discussing Latin American democratic failure.

Very much written from the standpoint of the US model, and its examples of failure of Latin America democracy fails miserably to acknowledge covert US undermining of democratic institutions in the US sphere of influence.
The authoritarian backlash in these countries is as a result of US propaganda and economic warfare directed at governments that want to rid themselves of the US stranglehold of their economy. Suggest you read Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival for a balanced world view. The US definition of a dictator is any president that doesn’t let US CEO’s run their country.

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  • Adriana Quintero Grijalba
  • 12-09-19

Useful background to what lead to Trump in USA

Useful, though I agree with the Guardian review that it falls short. It is helpful for US background, but the analysis of other countries strikes more as adapting all previous Autocrats, to Trump traits. Seems to lack context and real insight in some overviews of Latin America.

Poorly edited in parts, seems to have been done in a rush.

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  • Ana Carolina Uba Talbot
  • 19-11-18

Essential for nowdays

With examples book shows how we can loose democracy in soft coups and shows how America and Brazil is in risk.

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  • Marjori Pomarole
  • 17-10-18

Essential reading on this day and age.

Great study of the american state of democracy while offering enough studies of other countries outside the western hemisphere.

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  • Urquiza K
  • 02-09-18

Don't take democracy for granted

The truth about democracy is that even in America it can fail. This book offers a very complete historical overview with much attention to interesting and relevant details.

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  • Neil Green
  • 16-07-18

Largely about Americas struggles with democracy.

A good book , well narrated and does give many examples of how democracies die from around the world. Any person wishing to know more about how democracies work and what is needed for them to flourish should find this book useful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-18

Full of relevant information.

Liked it. full of interesting information, well narrated. A must for anybody interested in political analysis.

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  • Andrew (Bunny) Warren
  • 01-01-19

Although for an American citizen, it reminds democracy should not be taken for granted.

This book, although written with American citizens in mind, reminds us all of the responsibility we all have in looking after democracy and the 'gentle slide' the could lead a nation into waking up in a country we no longer politically recognise! Democracy needs to be cared for, nurtured and not taken for granted. 'Some of histories most tragic democratic breakdowns have been the degrading of basic democratic norms.' Remember... Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time! As a British citizen, the Mother of Parliaments and the seat of one of the world's oldest democracies, we need to remember that some things are bigger and more important than in or out of Europe! Democracy is a gift from one generation to the next, hard fought for and worth protecting... even if you don't agree with the outcome of a vote! After all, that is the point... to find the way through an impasse... simple really😎🐰