Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think

Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think

Bill Bryson meets Thomas Frank in this deeply insightful, unexpectedly hilarious story of how politicians hijacked American democracy and how we can take it back

The democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don't realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today.

What explains the gap between what We, the People want and what our elected leaders do? How can we fix our politics before it's too late? And how can we truly understand the state of our democracy without wanting to crawl under a rock? That's what former Obama speechwriter David Litt set out to answer.

Poking into forgotten corners of history, translating political science into plain English, and traveling the country to meet experts and activists, Litt explains how the world’s greatest experiment in democracy went awry. 

(He also tries to crash a party at Mitch McConnell’s former frat house. It goes poorly.)


The result of Litt's journey is something you might not have thought possible: a page-turner about the political process. You'll meet the Supreme Court justice charged with murder, learn how James Madison's college roommate broke the Senate, encounter a citrus thief who embodies what's wrong with our elections, and join Belle the bill as she tries to become a law (a quest far more harrowing than the one in Schoolhouse Rock!).

Yet despite his clear-eyed assessment of the dangers we face, Litt remains audaciously optimistic. He offers a to-do list of bold yet achievable changes—a blueprint for restoring the balance of power in America before it's too late.

Title:Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think
ISBN:9780062879387
Format Type:

    Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think Reviews

  • Avid

    I haven’t finished it yet, but i’ve already gotten enough valuable information to rate it a 5. If you believe you have or should have representation in our democracy, please read this ASAP. It con...

  • David

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.First, I was impressed by the tonal balance that David Litt achieves here. Written for a popular audience, Litt's humor and pop...

  • lori

    I thought I was going to finish this book yesterday, January 6, 2021. My reading was interrupted by news that a mob had marched from a Trump rally, broken into the U.S. Capitol and halted the certific...

  • Stephanie

       I went into this book really only knowing the title. I had no idea who the author was (I didn’t even notice the ‘author of…’ on the bottom of the front cover picture!), but if he could h...

  • Michael Sclafani

    Full disclosure: I was a teacher of the author, so I have no claims of being without bias. I expected the book to be pop-political science, and as a history teacher, I was reading it expecting to see ...

  • Katherine Nally

    A super interesting history of how we got to where we are today...

  • Colleen Mertens

    For a political book, this book was very easy to read. David Litt explains how democracy should work and why our system is messed up. He talks about everything that interferes with our system working ...

  • Diana

    Instead of filling out worksheets in my 9th grade civics class, it would have been better for me to read David Litt's, "Democracy in One Book or Less." I can't say how many times I had to put the book...

  • Donna Hines

    Unless you're living under a rock you realize the importance of such a book like David Litt's.What you may not realize is just how valuable it's in saving our democracy, our supreme courts, our consti...

  • Kaitlin Barnes

    Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. When was the last time that you laughed out loud while learning about campaign financ...