‘How to Lose a Country’ by Ece Temelkuran #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

An urgent call to action from one of Europe’s most well-regarded political thinkers, and a field guide to spotting the insidious patterns and mechanisms of the populist wave sweeping the globe – before it’s too late.

‘It couldn’t happen here’

Ece Temelkuran heard reasonable people in Britain say it the night of the Brexit vote.

She heard reasonable people in America say it the night Trump’s election was soundtracked by chants of ‘Build that wall.’

She heard reasonable people in Turkey say it as Erdoğan rigged elections, rebuilt the economy around cronyism, and labelled his opposition as terrorists.

How to Lose a Country is an impassioned plea, a warning to the world that populism and nationalism don’t march fully-formed into government; they creep. Award winning author and journalist Ece Temelkuran identifies the early-warning signs of this phenomenon, sprouting up across the world, in order to define a global pattern, and arm the reader with the tools to root it out.

Proposing alternative, global answers to the pressing – and too often paralysing – political questions of our time, Temelkuran explores the insidious idea of ‘real people’, the infantilisation of language and debate, the way laughter can prove a false friend, and the dangers of underestimating one’s opponent. She weaves memoir, history and clear-sighted argument into an urgent and eloquent defence of democracy.

No longer can the reasonable comfort themselves with ‘it couldn’t happen here.’ It is happening. And soon it may be too late.

This is a really thought-provoking book – and one that perhaps everyone should read, in order to shake us out of the complacency that makes us believe the atrocities we watch on TV couldn’t happen here. They could, and they are.

The author takes us through the seven steps on the path from a democracy to a dictatorship, and it’s frightening to recognise some of those things. The author doesn’t rant, or lecture, but uses examples to show what can happen. It’s a wake-up call for those of us that don’t think these things could happen here, or to us.

It’s not a difficult read, but it is a hard one – reality often is. 

Well-written, accessible, human – definitely recommended.



  1. Sounds like a book that people living in democracies really need right now. I’ve followed closely what’s been happening in the US since 2016 and it hasn’t been pretty. If populism as an inroad to authoritarian overreach can happen this overtly there, It can happen just about anywhere. Now that Biden is on his way to the White House, and will with another ounce of luck control both Houses of Congress, it is the time to shore up democratic guardrails, especially voters’ rights and the rights of many minority groups. All segments of society must be given a voice and a stake in the way a country is run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree – the rise of populism here in the UK is quite scary. I do think there’s a complacency in people, if ‘m honest, that these things only happen somewhere else. Looks like good news coming from the US today though, fingers crossed 🙂


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