The Demagogue's Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy from the Founders to Trump
What Happens to Democracy When a Demagogue Comes to Power?
It is hard to imagine understanding the Trump presidency and its significance without reading this book."
--Bob Bauer, Former Chief Counsel to President Barack Obama
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
How do we recognize a demagogue when we see one? In this insightful book, Eric Posner shows us that although democracies are inherently vulnerable to demagogues, America has seen remarkably few of them. Until now. The Demagogue's Playbook makes a compelling case that Donald Trump differs from nearly all other flawed, dishonest, or populist politicians that have passed through American politics. He is a true demagogue--a living manifestation of one our Founders' greatest fears. This is an important read for anyone concerned about the fate of American democracy.
--Steven Levitsky, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling co-author of How Democracies Die
An almost novellike stroll through American history...An insightful analysis into what went wrong with the Founders' dream.
--Bob Bauer, Former Chief Counsel to President Barack Obama "[A] skillful survey of American political history. [Posner] delivers a powerful argument for the need to restore constitutional safeguards against demagoguery."
--Publishers Weekly A brilliant and highly original discussion of one of the most important topics of the current era. Essential reading if you want to understand the world today.
--Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and co-author of the international bestseller, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
In a calm tone and with careful research and keen reasoning, Eric Posner illuminates the interplay of elitism, demagoguery, and populism in American politics, past and present. With a refreshing, sensible clarity, he cuts through the hyperbole and hysteria that often distorts assessments of our republic, particularly at this time.
--Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winning historian of William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic and The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia 1772-1832 Moving through a series of political and historical events and personalities, including Andrew Jackson, Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump, Posner illuminates the characteristics that make someone a "demagogue," including vicious personal attacks on political opponents, divisive accusations against vulnerable groups, the intentional spreading of lies, and efforts to undermine such fundamental institutions as the press and the judiciary. This work is necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand the challenges we, as a nation, face in the era of Trump.
--Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Professor of Law, The University of Chicago, and author of Perilous Times, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize "A magnificent book that traces the concepts of populism and demagoguery throughout American history. The book is hopeful in that the country has survived other demagogues and frightening in reminding us of how such a man can come to power."
--Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and bestselling author of We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the 21st Century Eric Posner is an incisive guide and a wise advisor as he leads us through the history and conditions that gave rise to two disruptive American demagogues, Andrew Jackson and the more dangerous Donald Trump. He takes us on this journey so that we may understand, with clear eyes, what we have done, and to recognize the scale of the attack we face against our own democratic institutions.
--Tom Nichols, US Naval War College, and author of The Death of Expertise Praise for Radical Markets: I have always been motivated to find ways to unite the power of technology and markets with the goal of creating a more egalitarian society, and the authors of this book offer an exploration of these apparently contradictory strands.
--Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Perhaps the most ambitious attempt to rethink democracy and markets since Milton Friedman. Twenty years from now this just might be the book people are talking about. The writing is excellent, with great examples and historical detail. I admire the ambition and willingness to experiment, a rare thing in economics these days. It just might help launch a new branch of political economy.
--Kenneth S. Rogoff, author of The Curse of Cash Radical Markets thinks big and builds daring proposals, all on a unified theme: the need for maintaining competition and eliciting decentralized information, whose neglect led to the demise of planned economies. Whether you are convinced by the specific proposals or not, your confidence in your worldview may well be shattered by the depth and originality of the analysis.
--Jean Tirole, Toulouse School of Economics, Nobel Laureate in Economics, and author of Economics for the Common Good