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cgdar_sm-borderCan Government Do Anything Right?  Cambridge, UK: Polity Books.  Forthcoming 2018.  ISBN 978-1-5095-2151-7.  Polity webpage.  Order on Amazon.

“This contrarian work is a welcome corrective to the doom and gloom commentary that is so common today.  Not only that, it’s a good read as well.  It will get an intensive workout in college seminars.” — Morris P. Fiorina, Stanford University

“Governing, particularly in democracies, is difficult and often frustrating work. In this vital new book, Alasdair Roberts explains why by identifying the multiple constraints imposed on political leaders. More importantly, he makes a convincing case that, over time, Western governments have successfully adapted to these constraints and have been largely effective at addressing the challenges they face. At a time when so many citizens are disenchanted with their governments, the argument in this book deserves a wide audience.” — Stephen K. Medvic, Franklin & Marshall College

From the press: “Across the Western world, people are angry about the inability of government to perform basic functions competently.  With widespread evidence of policy failures at home and ill-conceived wars and interventions abroad, it is hardly surprising that politicians are distrusted and government is derided as a sprawling, wasteful mess.  But what exactly is government supposed to do, and is the track record of Western governments really so awful? In this compelling book, leading scholar of public policy and management, Alasdair Roberts, explores what government does well and what it does badly.  Political leaders, he explains, have always been obliged to wrestle with shifting circumstances and contending priorities, making the job of governing extraordinarily difficult.  The performance of western democracies in recent decades is, admittedly, far from perfect but – as Roberts ably shows – it is also much better than you might think.”


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Four Crises of Democracy: Representation, Mastery, Discipline, Anticipation.  New York: Oxford University Press.  January 2017.  Details from OUP here.  Order on Amazon.  Watch a video about the book on YouTube.  News release from University of Missouri.

“Roberts’ thoughtful and elegant defense of democracy is to be welcomed . . . it is a refreshingly accessible read and a much-needed reminder both to social scientists and citizens in general about the importance of paying attention to history and what it can teach us about democracy.”  Public Administration Review, May/June 2017.

“To merely say this book is prescient would be doing a disservice to the text; its relevance and accuracy in describing our national climate is almost unnerving. . . . This is a book for citizens who care about democracy and find beauty and excitement in the fragility of this ‘great experiment.'”  Public Integrity, April 2017.

“Roberts’ overview of American democracy and how it has adapted and changed over the years is both very enjoyable and thought-provoking. . . . Roberts’ book is a reminder of the enduring (though not unassailable) stability of democracy, and the more basic issues always surrounding it.” The Complete Review, February 2017.

“This is a brilliant book and a much-needed antidote to ‘the politics of pessimism’ that swirls around so much scholarly writing and media messaging.”  LSE Politics & Policy Blog, May 2017.


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.”  — CriticalMargins.com

“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.

“A tour de force which deserves to be read and debated.  It has a grand synthetic sweep which is rare enough in scholarship these days, and it makes an important, imaginative contribution to our efforts to understand the forces shaping public policy in the last three decades.”  Public Administration, December 2012.

“This concise and provocative book has a readability that belies its dense subject matter. . . . [A] revealing exploration of the democratic deficit that lingers at the core of many of our society’s major institutions.” Times Literary Supplement, November 26, 2010.

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

Recommended.  Roberts’ sound judgment and expertise in the field of public administration make this an excellent primer on governance in the Bush years.”  Choice, September 2008.

“A trenchant analysis of the last eight years of American political history. . . . A work of rare insight that fills gaps glaringly evident in most public discourse.” Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2007.

“Highly recommended.  Roberts offers a provocative and intriguing thesis . . . and carefully develops his argument with examples and compelling logic.”  Library Journal, February 1, 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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