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The Dictator's Handbook cover art

The Dictator's Handbook

By: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith
Narrated by: Dan Woren
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Summary

Now featuring a new chapter on the rise of illiberalism worldwide.

The essential book that lays out the real rules of politics: leaders do whatever keeps them in power, regardless of the national interest.

As featured in the viral video “Rules for Rulers,” which has been viewed over fifteen million times.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith’s canonical book on political science turned conventional wisdom on its head. They started 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 must.

Newly updated to reflect the global rise of authoritarianism, this clever and accessible book illustrates how leaders amass and retain power. As Bueno de Mesquita and Smith show, democracy is essentially 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. And it is also the key to returning power to the people.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2011 Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith (P)2022 PublicAffairs

Critic reviews

"Simply the best book on politics written.... Every citizen should read this book." (CGP Grey)

"A lucidly written, shrewdly argued meditation on how democrats and dictators preserve political authority.... Bueno de Mesquita and Smith are polymathic, drawing on economics, history, and political science to make their points.... The reader will be hard-pressed to find a single government that doesn't largely operate according to Messrs. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith's model. So the next time a hand-wringing politician, Democrat or Republican, claims to be taking a position for the 'good of his country,' remember to replace the word 'country' with 'career.'" (Wall Street Journal)

"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." (Enlightenment Economics)

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If you only ever read one book on Politics.

This book offers a stone cold insight into the motivations of the leaders of the world, "good" ones and "bad" ones. It offers a simple to understand framework for why what happens, happens.

It's lessons apply outside of politics as well. The lessons here are fundamental where people meet with anything of value that can be controlled.

Its... a little depressing tho, but the truth often is I guess.

The narrator is good enough, a standard American male, who sounds engaged,

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Interesting connection

Very interesting to see how many countries use the same approach to hood wink there people

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Very worthwhile insights

I liked the book a lot for its analytical non partisan approach to topics that are normally only tackled from a particular ideological point of view. The chapter on Foreign Aid was particularly interesting with its counter intuitive empirical analysis. It seemed particularly oriented to the USA towards the end (more of a feature than a criticism).

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mediocre insides, bad history

while the context and the narrative of the book is good, the argumentation is superficial and the historical arguments are outright wrong. don't get me wrong, the arguments posed in this book are in general correct and they do have some historical basis, the way thou they are written shows the lack of such knowledge from the authors, and the cherry picking of history to prove a point, EVEN if the point they argue is fundamentally correct (and machiavellian, so be weary).

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1 person found this helpful