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 ...
  • Nancy
    This book is a sobering consideration of how democratic governments have, through subtle and even legal steps, evolved into authoritarian states. If American norms--political interaction not legislated but tacitly agreed upon--continue to be eroded we, too, could quickly find ourselves watching the last days of a democratic America.The authors present the histories of countries that were democracies and became authoritarian, highlighting the stra...
  • Andy
    This book delivers autopsies of various democracies from 30,000 feet. Hitler, Hugo Chavez, Pinochet, Trump somehow all get blended into this survey. So the bulk of the book works as an introductory history course. That's fine, but the rise of Hitler, for example, is old information. What I am looking for at this point is what to do to save democracy. I was disappointed by what the authors eventually conclude. For example, they have a long list of...
  • Maria
    I want you to see this man. He's the reason why I had to read this book.I'll be honest I'm not the biggest fan of America. I'm rather indifferent about them but I'm also aware of the importance of this country for the rest of the world. So like many people I was concern when Donald Trump got into power specially because I had seen a man like that. I'm 20 years old and that is how long the Revolución Bolivariana has been in my country and sadly I...
  • 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...
  • Andrew
    How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt is an examination of the Donald Trump presidency in the United States, and its tendencies toward authoritarianism. The authors are both adept at examining Latin American politics and similar subjects in countries like Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, and there analysis takes their skills in these study areas and applies them to the current adminis...
  • 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...
  • Jean
    I found this book fascinating. Ziblatt and Levitsky are respected scholars in the field of democracy studies. They teach at Harvard University.The book is well written and researched. It is written in an easy to read style that is easy for the lay person to follow. The first part of the book reviewed how democracies around the world have fallen to authoritarian regimes over the years. The authors explain three key important elements vital to a de...
  • 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...
  • Carlos Alberto Ledezma
    This book was quite disappointing. I was expecting a thorough analysis on how stable democracies turned into authoritarian regimes; in contrast, the book only does a quick overview of some modern dictatorships and then delves into the United States' democratic history. Finally, the book concludes with some possible solutions to the current political crisis in the US, but these solutions don't seem to be founded on what's written in the rest of th...
  • Katia N
    This book analyses historic examples how certain countries (Chile and Venezuela, but also the others) have moved from the democracy to autocratic and totalitarian regimes. The authors compare those examples with the current situation in America. They state that apart from the written laws and established institutions there are also unwritten norms and “forbearance” - accepting the opposition as a legitimate player. And when those things are u...
  • Emma Sea
    holy shit, we are SO SCREWED!
  • 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...
  • David Rush
    Two basic norms have preserved America’s checks and balances in ways we have come to take for granted: mutual toleration, or the understanding that competing parties accept one another as legitimate rivals, and forbearance, or the idea that politicians should exercise restraint in deploying their institutional prerogatives. These two norms under-girded American democracy for most of the twentieth century. Pg. 8That pretty much sums up the whole...
  • Kusaimamekirai
    In the darkest days of the Second World War, when America’s very future was at risk, writer E. B. White was asked by the U.S. Federal Government’s Writers War Board to write a short response to the question ‘What is democracy?’ His answer was unassuming but inspiring. He wrote:’Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt throug...
  • 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...
  • Mehrsa
    This is the rare book where I liked their solutions section better than their descriptive section. At the end, they fight against those who say that the left needs to let go of its embrace of identity culture (i.e. embrace of multiculturalism). They say that would be a huge mistake and I agree. Basically, this book shows how other democracies aboard have fallen into autocracy (spoiler: there are more similarities between us and them than differen...
  • Rosalyn
    This book is a mess. It reads like a first year college student's paper on why Trump is bad (which, of course, he is, but just because I share the authors' view of him doesn't mean I am going to overlook how pedestrian this book is).
  • Jennifer
    Incredibly compelling and well-researched look at how fragile the institution of democracy is. This even-handed book provides numerous examples of the subtle rise of authoritarianism in countries throughout history. The pattern is predictable and clear: 1) Elected officials reject the established rules of democracy; 2) They deny the legitimacy of political opponents; 3) They tolerate or encourage violence; 4) They move to curtail the civil libert...
  • Gail
    10 stars if I could give it. If you’re a sentient being living in the United States you are likely worried about the country’s future. Some of you are concerned that America will never be “great again”. Some are terrified that this administration’s behavior and policies will ensure that we will end in ruin, sooner, not later. This book lays out the context for the polarization we are living with and sets the stage realizing that we are ...
  • Arielle
    This was a fascinating education about how democracies around the world have either stood up to or succumbed to autocrats. It was both educational and somewhat frightening to learn about how many democracies slipped into authoritarianism through seemingly small changes: “Because there is no single moment—no coup, declaration of martial law, or suspension of the constitution—in which the regime obviously 'crosses the line' into dictatorship,...
  • Angie Boyter
    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...
  • Book
    How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt“How Democracies Die” is a very good book that describes how democracies domestically and internationally collapse not necessarily by force but by elected leaders who subvert the very process that brought them into power. Respected scholars Levitsky and Ziblatt provide readers with a very well informed look at challenges facing democracies today. This instructive 299-page book includes ...
  • Amie
    I really wanted to enjoy this book and learn from it, but it failed on both counts. The premise is one that is clear form the cover and advanced press. “America is on the road to killing its democracy and Trump is advancing that demise.” The key message of the book is an important one. When the leaders in government abandon “restraint and forebearance”and take a “no holds barred” approach to winning, the end is nigh. That is, when lea...
  • Mal Warwick
    "Over the past two years, we have watched politicians say and do things that are unprecedented in the United States—but that we recognize as having been the precursors of democratic crisis in other places. We feel dread, as do so many other Americans, even as we try to reassure ourselves that things can't really be that bad here." But can they? Is American democracy dying? This is the question that Harvard government professors Steven Levitsky ...
  • Paul
    A concise and sober exploration of the characteristics of failed democracies, with comparisons to the current American situation. It takes a broader approach, mainly thumbnail sketches of the countries in question, spending most of its time talking about the ways in which America's political parties and leaders have weakened the guardrail protecting our democracy. As a result, the book focuses mainly on that which is apparent to those of us who f...
  • 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...
  • Nikos
    Συνηθίζω να γράφω τις κριτικές μου στη γλώσσα που διάβασα το βιβλίο αλλά γι αυτό εδώ θα σπάσω την παράδοση. Ο λόγος είναι ότι, έχει νομίζω πιο πολύ ενδιαφέρον για τους Έλληνες φίλους παρά για τους αγγλόφωνους που θα έχουν πολλά να διαβάσουν έτσι κι...