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FCAD_CoverFour Crises of Democracy: Representation, Mastery, Discipline, Anticipation.  New York: Oxford University Press.  Release date: December 1, 2016.  Details from OUP here.  Order on Amazon.  Watch a video about the book on YouTube.  News release from University of Missouri.

From the Press: In the last ten years, there has been an outpouring of literature concerned with the crises that impact democracies in our era. Observers have noted a range of causes, including endemic corruption, gross incompetence in delivering basic services, and a corresponding increase in voter disaffection. Lurking in the background as well is the global resurgence of authoritarianism, a wave bolstered by the Western democracies’ apparent mishandling of the global financial crisis.

In Four Crises of American Democracy, Alasdair Roberts locates the U.S.’s recent bout of democratic malaise in a larger historical context, arguing that it is the latest in a series of very different crises that have plagued America throughout its history. He focuses on four crises, moving beyond descriptions of what each crisis involved to the solutions the government evolved in response. The first crisis-the “crisis of representation”-occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was dominated by fears of plutocracy and debates about the rights of African-Americans, women and immigrants. The “crisis of mastery” spanned the years 1917-1948, and was preoccupied with building administrative capabilities so that government could improve its control of economic and international affairs. The “crisis of discipline,” beginning in the 1970s, was triggered by the perception that voters and special interests were overloading governments with unreasonable demands. The final crisis, what he calls the “crisis of anticipation,” is the crisis we are currently living through. Roberts pronounces it a future-oriented crisis, one preoccupied with the capacity of democratic systems to deal with long-term problems such as the rise of China, and climate change.

Not surprisingly, we have not yet arrived at solutions to this latest crisis, but Roberts suggests that democratic solutions will win out over more authoritarian ones. Preceding crises have been met and resolved using democratic institutions, and this will be true for the current crisis as well. The essential features of the democratic model-societal openness, decentralization, and pragmatism-give it the edge over authoritarian alternatives.

A powerful account of how successive crises have shaped American democracy, Four Crises of American Democracy will be essential reading for anyone interested in the forces driving the current democratic malaise both in the U.S. and around the world.

Extended Cover Final 1_SmallThe End of Protest: How Free-Market Capitalism Learned to Control Dissent.
  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.

“If you care about your rapidly disappearing right to peacefully protest in the U.S. and the U.K., read this book.”  —

“Roberts convincingly argues that in the last three decades, the two countries that led the free-market revolution–the US and Britain–have invented new strategies for dealing with unrest over free market policies.” — Economic Sociology and Political Economy.

America's First Great DepressionAmerica’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, April 2012)

America’s First Great Depression is an intriguing history of American financial policy in the 1830s and 1840s. Alasdair Roberts’s contention that international financial considerations shaped U.S. policymaking is well sustained, the writing is sprightly, and the argument is nicely documented with a wealth of judiciously culled evidence.”  — Richard John, Columbia University.

“Alasdair Roberts tells a wide-ranging story of the depression that  began in 1837 with lucidity, emphasizing the role of global financial markets and finding plenty of analogies to the economic problems of today.”— Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848

LogicOfDisciplineThe Logic of Discipline: Global Capitalism and the Architecture of Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Honorable mention from the Best Book Award 2011 selection committee of the Section on Public Administration Research (SPAR), American Society for Public Administration.

CollapseThe Collapse of Fortress Bush: The Crisis of Authority in American Government (New York: New York University Press, 2008)


BlackedOutBlacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize, Research Committee on the Structure of Governance, International Political Science Association; Best Book Award, Public and Nonprofit Division, Academy of Management; Annual Book Award, American Society for Public Administration, Section on Public Administration Research; Louis Brownlow Book Award, National Academy of Public Administration.

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