On London School of Economics’ Politics & Policy blog, Matthew Flinders reviews Four Crises of American Democracy. Flinders writes: “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.” Read the review.
Posts from the ‘Book reviews’ Category
Early reviews for Four Crises of American Democracy, from the Oxford University Press website:
“Already among our foremost observers of global capitalism, economic policymaking, and the information age, Alasdair Roberts in his latest book expertly details four periods of crisis of American democracy across the past hundred-plus years. The reassuring news: the parlous state of our current national politics has ample historical precedent-and the republic survives. The better news: each crisis period contained the seeds of democratic renewal, providing genuine hope for our own future. Roberts’s clarion voice is one that deserves a full hearing from U.S. officialdom and citizenry alike.”- Rogan Kersh, Provost and Professor of Politics & International Affairs, Wake Forest University
“In this sharp and insightful analysis, Roberts takes dead aim at a central puzzle of our time: is American democracy so sick that it risks sliding deeply into chaos, even oblivion? The book takes measured stock of the challenges democracy faces. But even more important, Roberts finds that democracy has faced big crises before and has found within itself what it takes to conquer them. The result is an exceptionally clear-eyed look at the issues we face and how we can solve them. It’s must reading-especially for those trapped in despair about our system of government.”-Donald F. Kettl, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland
An IMF blog features a review of “The Politics of Fiscal Squeeze,” an edited volume that includes my chapter on the United States’ financial difficulties in 1837-1848.
Review of Democracy in Retreat by Joshua Kurlantzick. Forthcoming in International Public Management Review. “Kurlantzick provides a detailed account of how our end-of-the-millennium exuberance about the spread of democracy dissipated so quickly. Around the world, Kurlantzick says, an unhappy middle class has slipped away from the pro-democracy camp. What can be done to draw the middle class back? This is a critical question which Kurlantick only begins to answer — and perhaps cannot be answered neatly in a work of this breadth.” Read the draft on SSRN. Read more
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How The American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extremism. Mann, Thomas E. and Norman J. Ornstein. New York, Basic Books, 2013, pp. 248, $16.99 (pb), ISBN 978-0-465-07473-0.
In this book, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein provide a sobering description of how politics in Washington has coarsened over the span of a generation. Today, the authors warn, “America’s capacity to govern” is under threat (Mann and Ornstein 2013, xvii). They have some practical suggestions on how to make Washington work better. But the remedies may be unequal to the underlying problem: a profound shift in the structure of American politics, and attitudes about the role of the federal government in American life. Read more
The Fall 2014 issue of n+1 magazine includes a review essay by Jamie Martin discussing The End of Protest and The Logic of Discipline. “The 2008 crash and its aftermath have amounted, as the legal scholar Alasdair Roberts argues in The End of Protest, to little more than a ‘quiet crisis.'” Read the review.
In the June 2 issue of The Nation, Thomas Meaney and Yascha Mounk write an essay on the state of democracy that discusses The Logic of Discipline and several other books. “There are three principal reasons for democracy’s deepening crisis of legitimacy,” write Meaney and Mounk. “The first is rooted in what Alasdair Roberts has called the ‘logic of discipline,’ which refers to the strictures that the draftsmen of global capitalism introduced into the blueprints of national governments during the past three decades.” Read the essay.
I’ve just finished a review of “Tocqueville’s Nightmare: The Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900-1940,” by Daniel Ernst. The review is forthcoming in Public Administration Review. Read the review.
My review of The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar has just been published on Early View for Public Administration Review. I focus on the way in which this technological shock shaped American government. “The current fashion is to emphasize the ways in which ideology and institutional inertia constrain the governmental response to such shocks. But Wolmar tells a different story. In the long run, The Great Railroad Revolution suggests, the governmental response to this innovation was pragmatic, hard-headed, and flexible.” A draft of the review is also posted on SSRN.