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The Confidence Trap:
A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present
David Runciman

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"As a corrective to the doom-and-gloomsters, this book makes some telling points, and he is a clear and forceful writer. . . . What Runciman's focus on American democracy helps to do is to remind us that there is an international dimension to this subject that is closely connected to American self-perceptions."--Mark Mazower, Financial Times

"Runciman's writing, often brilliantly aphoristic, is full of insights, opinions, and phrasings that will challenge and delight scholars and general readers both."--Robert Nardini, Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Refreshingly free of received and rehearsed wisdoms, Runciman doesn't tiptoe around sacred cows and invites us to take part in that most adult way of thinking: to examine contradictory ideas in tandem and ponder what the dissonance amounts to. . . . [H]e argues lucidly, persuasively, even exhilaratingly at times. The nightly news will never appear exactly the same again."--Miriam Cosic, Australian

"[Runciman] is a trenchant commentator on current affairs and a historian of political thought who, in his books and his articles in the London Review of Books, has revealed himself to be a gifted explainer. . . . [H]e has a canny sense of how political power operates at its highest levels and in his exposition of political theory he is unfailingly clear and direct. Runciman's prose is conversational, if elegantly so--it is no surprise that he is a fluent lecturer--and characterised by a wry restraint."--Daniel Cohen, Los Angeles Review of Books

"[E]xcellent and interesting. . . . [A]dmirable and very well written."--Chris Patten, Tablet

"Runciman is a good writer and brave pioneer. . . . The picture he sketches is agreeably bold."--John Keane, Sydney Morning Herald

"If you think American democracy doesn't work these days, you have to read this well-written book."--Fareed Zakaria

"What we get here is good history. The events at the seven junctures are presented in a way that is learned, concise and informative."--Stein Ringen, International Affairs

"Runciman is skilled at bringing important political questions 'out of the clouds' and presenting them in a manner that is clear, engaging, and approachable. . . . This is an extraordinarily well-written and engaging book that asks important questions about structural strengths and weaknesses of democratic governance."--Choice


"In this book, David Runciman emerges as the most original guide we have to democracy's global prospects in the twenty-first century."--Melissa Lane, Princeton University

"The Confidence Trap's engrossing analytical history illuminates democracy's deepening achievements and recurring crises during the charged past century. By incisively interpreting these moments of unsettled apprehension and by tracking patterns of coping and surviving, this rich, important book helps us understand, and perhaps even navigate, present anxieties about the capacity of democracies to grapple with the big issues of economics, geopolitics, and the environment."--Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

"Rivetingly written for a wide audience, this is David Runciman's best and most original book to date--bold, clear, astonishingly well informed, and consistently excellent. His ecumenical curiosity is as engaging as it is disarming, pulling you into a history that is effortless to read and leaves you thinking about its insights long after you put it down."--Ian Shapiro, author of The Real World of Democratic Theory

"Imaginative and entirely original. I've not read anything remotely like it."--Alan Ryan, author of On Politics

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File created: 3/23/2017

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