Ill Winds

Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency
Narrated by: Larry Diamond
Length: 13 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.1 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the 2020 Arthur Ross Book Award

From America’s leading scholar of democracy, a personal, passionate call to action against the rising authoritarianism that challenges our world order - and the very value of liberty.

Larry Diamond has made it his life's work to secure democracy's future by understanding its past and by advising dissidents fighting autocracy around the world. Deeply attuned to the cycles of democratic expansion and decay that determine the fates of nations, he watched with mounting unease as illiberal rulers rose in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, and beyond, while China and Russia grew increasingly bold and bullying. Then, with Trump's election at home, the global retreat from freedom spread from democracy's margins to its heart. 

Ill Winds' core argument is stark: the defense and advancement of democratic ideals relies on US global leadership. If we do not reclaim our traditional place as the keystone of democracy, today's authoritarian swell could become a tsunami, providing an opening for Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and their admirers to turn the 21st century into a dark time of despotism. 

We are at a hinge in history, between a new era of tyranny and an age of democratic renewal. Free governments can defend their values; free citizens can exercise their rights. We can make the internet safe for liberal democracy, exploit the soft, kleptocratic underbelly of dictatorships, and revive America's degraded democracy. Ill Winds offers concrete, deeply informed suggestions to fight polarization, reduce the influence of money in politics, and make every vote count. 

In 2019, freedom's last line of defense still remains "We the people". 

©2019 Larry Diamond (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“With Ill Winds, Diamond has provided a sobering description of the origins and impacts of the global assault - from both foreign and domestic sources - on democracy, and a thorough, thoughtful, and indeed, hopeful, prescription for what to do about it. His life-long devotion to the study of democracy is clearly evident in the scholarly and authoritative approach. This is a crucial read for anyone who is concerned about current trends, and reversing the insidious effects of the broad-gauged assault on truth that regrettably is eroding our traditional and long-held precepts of freedom.” (James Clapper, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence and author of Facts and Fears)

"Larry Diamond nails it. The rise of the authoritarian impulse globally comes at a time when the United States is unwilling to provide the leadership that nudges these countries toward freedom. There will be lasting consequences if we continue down this road. A must read.” (Senator Jeff Flake, author of Conscience of a Conservative

“Synthesizing a lifetime of democracy scholarship, Larry Diamond has written a brilliant, sweeping analysis of the ‘ill winds’ threatening the future of democracy both in America and around the world.  Diamond not only provides a powerful, precise diagnosis of the causes of democratic erosion in the world today, but also offers concrete prescriptions for democratic renewal in the United States and around the globe. Ill Winds is a page-turning international manifesto, calling upon ‘democrats of the world to unite’ to preserve, reinvigorate, and expand those democratic institutions and values that have produced so much peace, prosperity, and freedom in the past. A must read for all, from future heads of state to every citizen of the world.” (Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to the Russian Federation and author of From Cold War to Hot Peace)

"This is a powerful, vital, and essential treatment of the dangerous waters our nation must navigate in this turbulent 21st century. Without steady American leadership - which vacillates too often - chaos and instability will only increase. Ill Winds is a superb cautionary tale and a prescriptive guide as well." (Adm. James Stavridis, USN (ret.), author of Sea Power

“Larry Diamond is one of the world's foremost students of democracy. He has spent a lifetime studying, and advocating, self-government. In Ill Winds, he distills decades of research to explain why Trump is not unique, but rather indicative of a worldwide threat to democracy whose dimensions we must take seriously. He offers astute advice on how we can repair the democratic fabric and stop the rise of dangerous demagogues. An imperative and important read in these deeply troubled times.” (Max Boot, author of The Corrosion of Conservatism

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The Most Important Book of the Ers

Larry Diamond is sometimes described as the world’s foremost authority on democracy. And in an era in which democracy is threatened the world over, and where the fate of democracy is intimately linked to the fate of the earth, this is arguably the most important book of the era. I say this as someone who reads and listens to about 100-150 non-fiction books a year and has done so for the past 15-20 years. This book is not flashy or brilliant. But it gets straight to the heart of what is driving the rise of authoritarian nationalism and the threat it poses to democracy. And it is overflowing with ideas about what to do about it. Listen to it if you care about the future of your country and the planet, and share it with your friends. It will frighten you to death and then inspire you with what is possible.

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strong political bias

I honestly had hoped for objective information sharing. This book has a very strong bias. To his credit, the author presents his summary of relevant historical data to support his conclusions. I kind of feel like I was being given a sales pitch, not an unbiased presentation of information and possibilities... maybe that's just me...

1 person found this helpful