RaveThe GuardianThe greatest of the many merits of Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s contribution to what will doubtless be the ballooning discipline of democracy death studies is their rejection of western exceptionalism. There are no vaccines in American (or, I would add, British) culture that protects us: just ways of doing business that now feel decrepit ... As Levitsky and Ziblatt emphasise, democracy survives when democratic leaders fight for it. They tell inspiring stories I had not heard before... The authors are free from nostalgia ... You can find grounds for hope in the Republican party’s refusal to allow Trump to silence the Russia inquiry and the president’s unpopularity. Maybe America will return to normal. But as the authors of this excellent book, which manages to be scholarly and readable, alarming and level-headed, would be the first to say: there are no guarantees.
Timothy Garton Ash
PositiveThe GuardianGarton Ash has two virtues, which are rarely combined. The ability to theorise and the ability to work. His research is wide-ranging. He covers all the great controversies of our time and many more illuminating conflicts you are unlikely to know about. Because freedom of speech is a right that other rights depend on, this book encompasses vast areas of 21st-century dispute...If he has a fault, it is his old one. He cannot speak plainly about the need to fight religious prejudice. We must bite our tongues in the presence of religion and 'respect the believer but not necessarily the content of the belief.' His formula is as canting as the claim of a queer-bashing preacher to 'love the sinner and hate the sin.' If a belief mandates the execution of apostates such as Hirsi Ali, you respect neither belief nor believer. But this is a small complaint.