Enlightenment Economics, July 14, 2011
“Machiavelli’s The Prince has a new rival. It’s THE DICTATOR’S HANDBOOK by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.… This is a fantastically thought-provoking read. I found myself not wanting to agree but actually, for the most part, being convinced that the cynical analysis is the true one.”
R. James Woolsey Director of Central Intelligence, 1993-1995, and Chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, July, 2011
"In this fascinating book Bueno de Mesquita and Smith spin out their view of governance: that all successful leaders, dictators and democrats, can best be understood as almost entirely driven by their own political survival—a view they characterize as 'cynical, but we fear accurate.' Yet as we follow the authors through their brilliant historical assessments of leaders' choices—from Caesar to Tammany Hall and the Green Bay Packers—we gradually realize that their brand of cynicism yields extremely realistic guidance about spreading the rule of law, decent government, and democracy. James Madison would have loved this book."
Roger Myerson, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, July, 2011
"In this book, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith teach us to see dictatorship as just another form of politics, and from this perspective they deepen our understanding of all political systems."
Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2011
“A lucidly written, shrewdly argued meditation on how democrats and dictators preserve political authority…. In a style reminiscent of Freakonomics, Messrs. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith present dozens of clever examples… The most fascinating chapter in The Dictator's Handbook concerns the rewards that governments provide other governments. The authors make the obvious, but nevertheless controversial, argument that almost all aid money is dispersed not to alleviate poverty but to purchase loyalty and influence…. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith are polymathic, drawing on economics, history and political science to make their points…. In other words, the reader will be hard-pressed to find a single government that doesn't largely operate according to Messrs. Bueno de Mesquita and Smith's model. So the next time a hand-wringing politician, Democrat or Republican, claims to be taking a position for the ‘good of his country,’ remember to replace the word ‘country’ with ‘career.’”
“In a brutally forthright work, the authors distill the process by which politicians gain and retain power.”
About the Author
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics and director of the Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy at New York University. He is the author of 16 books, including The Predictioneer’s Game.
Alastair Smith is professor of politics at New York University. The recipient of three grants from the National Science Foundation and author of three books, he was chosen as the 2005 Karl Deutsch Award winner, given biennially to the best international relations scholar under the age of 40.