For 18 years, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith have been revolutionizing the study of politics by turning conventional wisdom on its head. They start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the "national interest" - or even their subjects - unless they have to.
This clever and accessible book shows that the difference between tyrants and democrats is just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.
©2011 Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (P)2012 Tantor
"Machiavelli's The Prince has a new rival.... This is a fantastically thought-provoking read. I found myself not wanting to agree but actually, for the most part, being convinced that the cynical analysis is the true one." (Enlightenment Economics)
This book is cynical and cold, and views people as selfish and greedy with little concern for the welfare of others. I hate that I think it's correct. The thesis is straightforward: the size of of a leader's coalition largely determines his/her behavior. The examples in the book are concise and convincing, making the case so plain that I feel a little embarrassed that I had not realized what was going on before. Cold as it is, the authors do not leave us in despair as they close with practical ideas on how to make things better. This is not a reassuring read, but it is one of the most insightful I have read.
The narration went unnoticed - which is how I like it.
"Sapere Aude" Kant
I was angry about the premise because I didn't want to believe it. However, the more I read and the more independent research I did the more I came to believe. That is what is enjoyable about this book, it's a paradigm shift in political human nature!
I would compare this to, and recommend reading of, "Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty" They should be companion readings to understand global politics and economics.
This is my first audio book read by Johnny Heller. His hushed, raspy voice was disconcerting at first, but I can't imagine a better performer for the info now. No false accents, or grandiose announcing, just well read hard truths.
Not only was this a book to listen to in one setting, but one of the few I know I will listen to again. What it has to tell is vitally important to anyone who votes and controls policy.
This should be read in High School so that when those students reach voting age, they won't vote with their heads in the sand.
If you hate political science, but want to understand politics, this is the book for you! This book tells it how it is and not how we want it to work in LA LA land. I have recommended this book to tons of people from my father-in-law to my ecentric, anarchist friend and they all love it! Highly recommended read!
I learned something new every ten minutes I listened to this book. For someone who listens to almost a book a day (like myself), it's rare to find a truly insightful new book.
I'm travel alot and auido books are my moble home. I seem to be hooked on them and there is rarely a time that there not on for me.
This is an objective view on a political theory. This is why people rule or how to rule. This isn't whether a specific government is good or a specific government is bad. This is how all government generally works. And it doesn't matter whether it's a monarchy a democracy or theocracy or anything. It's a very comprehensive political theory and he gives exact examples of this is how it works. Ranging from small town mayor ships or small groups of people up into large countries both capitalist or communist.
The Dictator's Handbook was an incredibly pragmatic book based on the principle that leaders do what is necessary to seize and maintain power, which relies on the size of their coalition. I highly recommend it to those looking to make a difference.
Some topics include how foreign aid strengthens autocrats, tourism promotes liberalization, why resource rich nations are often autocratic and how corporations can be democratized (which helps handle excessive executive pay and poor corporate practices that lead to crises).
Focusing on the dynamics of how leaders obtain and hold power provides as less idealistic view of how leadership works.
I would read this book again. It is well thought out and is a fresh view on politics.
This book puts a new perspective on how I view politics. The ideas presented in this book create a useful filter with which to gauge politcs both domestic and internationa.
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