A groundbreaking new theory of the real rules of politics: leaders do whatever keeps them in power, regardless of the national interest.
As featured on the viral video Rules for Rulers, which has been viewed over 3 million times.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith's canonical book on political science turned conventional wisdom on its head. They started from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the "national interest"-or even their subjects-unless they have to.
This clever and accessible book shows that democracy is essentially just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.
Simply the best book on politics written.... Every citizen should read this book.-CGP Grey
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics and director of the Alexander Hamilton centre 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.They are also the authors of The Spoils of War: Greed, Power, and the Conflicts That Made Our Greatest Presidents.
"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....