How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky

How Democracies Die

A bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world--and a road map for rescuing our ownDonald Trump's presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we'd be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ...

Details How Democracies Die

TitleHow Democracies Die
Release DateJan 16th, 2018
PublisherCrown Publishing Group (NY)
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, History, Political Science

Reviews How Democracies Die

  • Michael Austin
    I have not read Fire and Fury and doubt that I will. It seems too much like gossip to me, and too similar to the truckload of OBAMA IS DESTROYING AMERICA books that occurred during the last administration. But I bought How Democracy Dies the first day it came out, and read it in an evening because it gives exactly the kind of historical analysis that, I think, we need to understand in 2018. Levitsky and Ziblatt are genuine scholars (at Harvard ev...
  • Faith
    This is a well-researched analysis of the factors leading to the death of democracies, the signs of the rise of authoritarianism and the threats to the checks and balances that were supposed to prevent the election of demagogues. It outlines strategies employed by elected authoritarians to consolidate their control: "capture the referees, sideline the key players and rewrite the rules to tilt the playing field". The authors demonstrate how Trump ...
  • Richard
    Depressing! I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Written by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, and published in the United States by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, New York in 2018, the book consists of a detailed and concise account of various democratic governments that have collapsed in relatively recent history, and how...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Lays the blame for the fall of democracies on the erosion of the guardrails (unwritten rules) of the polity. Also lays a big chunk of the blame for the decay of democracy at the party or legal gatekeepers failing to weed out extremists and outsiders. Outsiders and extremists are not well known for respecting established procedural forms of democracy and will break the guardrails of democracy and turn towards autocracy. This has been the form auth...
  • Angie
    When we think of a democracy dying, what comes to mind is usually a military coup or civil war or other sudden violent action. In How Democracies Die, Harvard Government professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt show how countries can lose their democracy more slowly and insidiously, often without a single shot fired.They assert that, beyond the obvious mechanisms we depend on like free and fair elections and a strong constitution, democracie...
  • Bruce Katz
    Rating a book like this with stars is entirely irrelevant. Written by two Harvard professors who have studied the lives and deaths of democracies around the world, the book rings a sober alarm about the precarious state of American democracy today. It lays out step by step how democracies have weakened and authoritarian regimes have taken their place -- sometimes dramatically, as with coups, and sometimes incrementally. As they demonstrate, our p...
  • Caren
    Fascinating book! I put everything aside this weekend and read it in a day. The authors, both professors of government at Harvard, not only look at warning signs of a democracy's decline based on others countries which have fallen into authoritarianism, but also at points in American history when that possibility existed here. They explain the "guardrails" which saved the USA in the past. Right at the start, they list four things to look for as a...
  • Keith Raffel
    A truly frightening book that shows how America is following in the footsteps of other countries that have given up democracy for authoritarianism: countries like Hungary (now), Chile under Pinochet, Turkey (now), Germany in the 1930s, and Italy in the 1920s. The authors set forth four indications of danger: 1) rejection of democratic rules of the game, 2) denial of the legitimacy of political opponents, 3) toleration or encouragement of violence...
  • Gary Moreau
    On the surface, this is a book about the internal contradictions of democracy and how those vulnerabilities can be exploited by those interested in authoritarian power with, in the case of the Republicans, a “white nationalist appeal.” It’s a valid assessment to about half of us, and they make a very strong historical and horrifying case in support of it. (think fascism, communism, and MAGA-ism)Every coin, of course, has two sides. The fail...
  • Alex
    I got to read an early copy and interview one of the authors for California Magazine. Here's the start of that Q&A:Daniel Ziblatt has spent a career studying why democracies develop and how they die. Along with his co-author and fellow UC Berkeley alumnus, Steven Levitsky, he has done so from a perch at Harvard, and his focus has always been different places and times: Ziblatt is an expert on democracy in modern Europe, including the age of Hitle...
  • Melissa
    “How Democracies Die” is a clear-eyed and level-headed assessment of the potential threat to our democracy presented by the presidency of Donald J. Trump. This book is a welcome and noticeable departure from the more typical writing about Trump as it does not indulge in simply reacting to his transgressions or waste time questioning why the president behaves the way that he does. Rather the authors competently and methodically lay out a case ...
  • Pazu
    When Donald Trump was elected president, most thought that the American Consitution and the Congress' check and balance would limit the power of anyone who tried to abuse it.Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt offered a pessimistic picture, the Constitution and the power of Congress relied on the self-restraint of those in power. For leaders who decided not to follow the forbearance or adhere to the political norm, it was easy for them to abuse th...
  • Scott
    After hearing the authors on NPR and reading an op-ed, I ordered the book and read it in about half a day. The opening chapters are revealing, as they use their historical expertise on how democracies failed in Europe in the 1930's and Latin America in the 1960's and 70's to detail how elected officials subvert the system. They also discuss the nations where such attempts were thwarted and how.They discuss America's history with demagogues and ho...
  • Susan Marie
    Written by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer a book focused on how and why democracies eventually falter, crash and burn. This is not a book about a politician, rather, about the current state of the American government, a state that has been festering like an open wound for decades. This book breaks down how the current administration threatens the rights of people.Sin...
  • (a)lyss(a)
    "If twenty-five years ago, someone had described to you a country in which candidates threatened to lock up their rivals, political opponents accused the government of stealing the election or establishing a dictatorship, and parties used their legislative majorities to impeach presidents and steal supreme court seats you might have thought of Ecuador or Romania." I received a copy of this book from in exchange for an honest ...
  • Rick
    Essential reading. I don’t share the authors’ optimistic outlook on America’s democratic future but otherwise completely agree. The chapter on revitalizing America’s center-right was both intriguing and depressing. Depressing because I don’t believe the political will is there after seeing conservative leaders crumple in the face of Trumpism. Those who haven’t crumpled have been reduced to irrelevancy. The problem is that a solid plur...
  • Lynn Hall
    If you are an American of voting age, READ THIS BOOK. It is, honestly, the most important and most frightening book about our current situation that I've read. It is well-researched, thoughtfully presented, and written in a clear, easy to read style. It presents examples from the histories of not only the US, but countries such as Peru, Venezuela, and Turkey (along with the expected discussions of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy).The bad news is t...
  • Sunil
    In his democratic doorstopper Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, Francis Fukuyama argues that it is active, committed, uncorrupt bureaucracies and strong institutions with a clear directive that go a ways in influencing a healthful democracy. The authors of How Democracies Die opt to privilege the "norms" of conduct and administration that, while unwritten, govern the everyday wo...
  • Ginni Dickinson
    Harvard government professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt make the case that democracy in the United States is seriously at risk due to a current administration that is becoming increasingly autocratic. Levitsky and Ziblatt detail the characteristics of autocratic leaders, and provide examples from recent world and U.S. history. Their conclusion is that Donald Trump is the most autocratic leader that the U.S. has ever experienced. The auth...
  • Kiseruyoru
    Another book I have to respond to immediately just to get myself to read it:Stop conflating Republics with Democracies! When you say "Maddisonian Democracy", everyone who has actually read the man will immediately think "Plutocratic Republic", because that's what he unabashedly advocated. You then belittle democracy as nothing more than electoral politics in terms of the US, and paradoxically (which is just the liberal word for hypocrisy or ideol...
  • Mark
    I was expecting the book to be more about the death of democracies in general with a specific look at the United States at the end. But it's very much focused on the US from the start. Considering how bad the situation is (and if you don't think so, you will by the time you finish the book), I can't blame the authors.The book makes clear that Trump is a great, immediate danger (certainly if a crisis should hit) but that things have been messed up...
  • Marc Lonoff
    Be fearful, be hopefulAmerica’s democracy is being sorely tested by Donald Trump. He is the latest chapter in polarization along racial and religious lines. According to the authors a century of comity began with the compromise of 1877. This racial exclusion bought peace between Republicans and Democrats. The civil rights rebirth of the 1960’s brought this period to an end. Not much weight is placed on economic class warfare and the ascent of...
  • Lisa
    This book is phenomenal. The authors, both Harvard professors, have studied the breakdown of democracies as their life’s work. Using examples from across the globe and from different eras, they show how a slow and steady weakening of institutions and norms can lead to the decline of a democracy. If you have wondered lately if our own democracy is in trouble, this book is what you need to read. You might expect the book is a difficult read based...
  • Priscilla
    This isn't a very hopeful book, but it's the best explanation I've seen for how we got here. We've been racist from the founding, and we have gotten to the point where we'll have to solve it or die as a republic. The white Christian married majority who have become the minority are not going to accept their new circumstance, even if they have to turn the government autocratic to prevent it. The solution to all of this--we form alliances with our ...
  • Cassandra
    I received a complimentary copy.For some of the readers I think that this book is going to be a great read and they will feel involved or included. Not everyone will because of how it is viewed and worded by the author. I feel it is more of a thinking book because it will require a lot of deep thought to get through especially if you think this topic is a bit on the boring side.
  • Via Bella
    This book really couldn't come at a better time. It is well written so anyone really can read it and it gives an overview, with detail, about the rise and fail of democracies around the world and what we can learn from it in the USA. Read the full review here: https://viabella-thebeautifullife.blo...
  • Bic Stevens
    This is an important book that should be read by all Americans...Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. As the authors detail, our Constitution and democracy requires that our government operate with mutual tolerance where we respect our opponents and their legitimacy...and forbearance, where the exercise of power is restrained.
  • Rahul Adusumilli
    Marvellous. A supreme effort. Proposes the bravest of solutions, the ones based on reconciliation. Brinksmanship may rally your base but that march only leads to the abyss. If you're looking for a bonus feature, you get the political backdrop to the big political event in Nathan Hill's The Nix.
  • David Robinson
    Quick ReadIt’s a good premise to compare out current state to democracies which have failed, and conclude offering solutions. It’s a book worth reading to think about how close we are running to the edge.