Can It Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America

Edited by Cass R. Sunstein. Dey Street, $17.99 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-269619-9
Playing off the title of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel about the rise of an authoritarian regime in the U.S., It Can’t Happen Here, Sunstein (#Republic) gathers together 17 provocative, topical essays, prompted by fears that the Trump presidency could become a dictatorship. His contributors, a diverse group of social scientists, political scientists, and legal experts, ponder topics that include “constitutional rot,” the use and misuse of government-declared states of emergency, and lessons from the country’s founding. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner contends that dictators succeed when they take on and defeat several institutions, including the press, courts, and party system; Trump, Posner argues, depends on such institutions, and for now at least is not enacting the dictator’s handbook. University of Chicago law professors Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq cautiously remind readers that the U.S. Constitution excels at preventing coups or rapid deployment of emergency powers, but not at preventing autocrats from slowly dismantling democracy. Duke University political scientist Timur Kuran warns that in an era of cascading intolerance it is no easy task to find societal common ground. Like almost any essay collection, this one is uneven, but the best of the entries rouse the reader to think carefully and deeply about the prospects for American authoritarianism. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-269621-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-9728-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-279778-0
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