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WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITH BOOK PRIZE • SHORTLISTED FOR THE LIONEL GELBER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Time • Foreign Affairs • WBUR • Paste
Donald 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 ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.
Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.
Praise for How Democracies Die
“What we desperately need is a sober, dispassionate look at the current state of affairs. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer just that.”—The Washington Post
“Where Levitsky and Ziblatt make their mark is in weaving together political science and historical analysis of both domestic and international democratic crises; in doing so, they expand the conversation beyond Trump and before him, to other countries and to the deep structure of American democracy and politics.”—Ezra Klein, Vox
“If you only read one book for the rest of the year, read How Democracies Die. . . .This is not a book for just Democrats or Republicans. It is a book for all Americans. It is nonpartisan. It is fact based. It is deeply rooted in history. . . . The best commentary on our politics, no contest.”—Michael Morrell, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (via Twitter)
“A smart and deeply informed book about the ways in which democracy is being undermined in dozens of countries around the world, and in ways that are perfectly legal.”—Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Germany's and Italy's belated national unifications continue to loom large in contemporary debates. Often regarded as Europe's paradigmatic instances of failed modernization, the two countries form the basis of many of our most prized theories of social science. Structuring the State undertakes one of the first systematic comparisons of the two cases, putting the origins of these nation-states and the nature of European political development in new light.
Daniel Ziblatt begins his analysis with a striking puzzle: Upon national unification, why was Germany formed as a federal nation-state and Italy as a unitary nation-state? He traces the diplomatic maneuverings and high political drama of national unification in nineteenth-century Germany and Italy to refute the widely accepted notion that the two states' structure stemmed exclusively from Machiavellian farsightedness on the part of militarily powerful political leaders. Instead, he demonstrates that Germany's and Italy's "founding fathers" were constrained by two very different pre-unification patterns of institutional development. In Germany, a legacy of well-developed sub-national institutions provided the key building blocks of federalism. In Italy, these institutions' absence doomed federalism. This crucial difference in the organization of local power still shapes debates about federalism in Italy and Germany today. By exposing the source of this enduring contrast, Structuring the State offers a broader theory of federalism's origins that will interest scholars and students of comparative politics, state-building, international relations, and European political history.
Demokratien sterben mit einem Knall oder mit einem Wimmern. Der Knall, also das oft gewaltsame Ende einer Demokratie durch einen Putsch, einen Krieg oder eine Revolution, ist spektakulärer. Doch das Dahinsiechen einer Demokratie, das Sterben mit einem Wimmern, ist alltäglicher – und gefährlicher, weil die Bürger meist erst aufwachen, wenn es zu spät ist. In ihrem mehrfach preisgekrönten Bestseller zeigen die beiden Politologen Steven Levitsky und Daniel Ziblatt, woran wir erkennen, dass demokratische Institutionen und Prozesse ausgehöhlt werden. Und sie sagen, wie wir diese Entwicklung stoppen können. Denn mit gezielter Gegenwehr lässt sich die Demokratie retten – auch vom Sterbebett.