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The Dictator's Handbook

Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics

Alastair Smith Bruce de Mesquita

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Public Affairs
31 July 2012
Politics & government; Political structures: totalitarianism & dictatorship
For eighteen years, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith have been part of a team 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.
By:   Alastair Smith, Bruce de Mesquita
Imprint:   Public Affairs
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 209mm,  Width: 155mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   315g
ISBN:   9781610391849
ISBN 10:   1610391845
Pages:   252
Publication Date:   31 July 2012
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics and director of the Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy at New York University. He is the author of 16 books, including The Predictioneer's Game. Alastair Smith is professor of politics at New York University. The author of three previous books, he was chosen as the 2005 Karl Deutsch Award winner, given biennially to the best international relations scholar under the age of 40.

Reviews for The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics

CGP Grey Simply the best book on politics written... Every citizen should read this book. R. James Woolsey Director of Central Intelligence, 1993-1995, and Chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, July, 2011 In this fascinating book Bueno de Mesquita and Smith spin out their view of governance: that all successful leaders, dictators and democrats, can best be understood as almost entirely driven by their own political survival--a view they characterize as 'cynical, but we fear accurate.' Yet as we follow the authors through their brilliant historical assessments of leaders' choices--from Caesar to Tammany Hall and the Green Bay Packers--we gradually realize that their brand of cynicism yields extremely realistic guidance about spreading the rule of law, decent government, and democracy. James Madison would have loved this book. Roger Myerson, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, July, 2011 In this book, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith teach us to see dictatorship as just another form of politics, and from this perspective they deepen our understanding of all political systems. Enlightenment Economics, July 14, 2011 Machiavelli's The Prince has a new rival. It's THE DICTATOR'S HANDBOOK by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith... 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.


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