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

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith
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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-06-13
Well researched with great case studies on autocratic leaders and their pursuit of perpetual power. In some places it feels repetitive but it keeps you interested with great stories to illustrate their somewhat academic points. A background in political science isn’t needed but those with degrees in Poli Sci will get a lot of the more nuanced points.
Reviewed: 2017-08-22

If you know nothing about politics and how people make decisions, this is a very good and interesting read. Otherwise, it's a nice summary of our world and maybe even a reminder of how twisted and selfish everyone really is.

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