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How Dictatorships Work
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Book description

This accessible volume shines a light on how autocracy really works by providing basic facts about how post-World War II dictatorships achieve, retain, and lose power. The authors present an evidence-based portrait of key features of the authoritarian landscape with newly collected data about 200 dictatorial regimes. They examine the central political processes that shape the policy choices of dictatorships and how they compel reaction from policy makers in the rest of the world. Importantly, this book explains how some dictators concentrate great power in their own hands at the expense of other members of the dictatorial elite. Dictators who can monopolize decision making in their countries cause much of the erratic, warlike behavior that disturbs the rest of the world. By providing a picture of the central processes common to dictatorships, this book puts the experience of specific countries in perspective, leading to an informed understanding of events and the likely outcome of foreign responses to autocracies.


‘How Dictatorships Work artfully combines the minutia of autocratic rule – as with the Turkmen dictator naming his dentist as his successor after successfully replacing his teeth with gold - with rigorous attention to general patterns based on an assiduously collected and award-winning dataset in order to illuminate the multifarious challenges faced by ‘seizure groups' and their leaders that seek to consolidate rule and stave off oppositional conspiracies.'

David D. Laitin - Stanford University, California

‘This book is a landmark contribution on the logics of autocratic rule. With insightful theorizing, novel empirical data and captivating historical detail, the authors offer answers to some of the most critical questions about autocratic rule: why some autocrats establish stable governments while others suffer continuous revolts? Why some create pseudo democratic institutions and others do not? Why some distribute benefits broadly while others concentrate these among a small group of regime loyalists? This book will set the agenda for the study of authoritarianism for years to come.'

Beatriz Magaloni - Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, California

'How Dictatorships Work masterfully illustrates the paths autocrats take to power and the ways in which they keep it.'

Anna Grzymala-Busse

‘The book is essential reading for anyone interested in authoritarian politics, democratization or comparative politics.’

Albertus Schoeman Source: Democratization

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