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Publisher Description


“A brilliant book, wise and nuanced.”
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

“Comprehensive, enlightening, and terrifyingly timely.”
New York Times Book Review

“Cool and persuasive... How Democracies Die comes at exactly the right moment.”
The Washington Post

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.

Politics & Current Events
January 16
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

Jikyo39 ,

How Democracies Die

I have been trying for months to understand what has happened in the US to bring us to the Trump presidency. This book is the first, of the many I have read, that brings it all together in a way that makes sense. It is scholarly, yet eminently readable. It emphasizes the role of informal norms in sustaining democracy—the written constitution is not enough —and describes the breakdown of these norms that started long before Trump. And it analyzes the extreme polarization in American politics today, both effect and cause of the breakdown of norms, in light of the ongoing impact of slavery and racism on the political history of American democracy. It all comes together in the final chapter of the book.

tortillarob ,

Beautiful and articulate!

Written from a place of knowledge and inquiry this book asks fundamental questions not about the current administration as much about the grand experiment that is the United States of America. Read this if you believe that knowledge mixed with action is more powerful than a gun, and that the big picture should drive your day to day little picture. Highly recommend.



Cute musings made by children. This book could have been written by a high schooler. It’s scrawled and overdramatic. It felt like I was reading a Facebook rant rather than an actual piece of literature.

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