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One of the Financial Times' Best Books of 2019, one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2019, shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize! 'As enjoyable as it is thought-provoking' Jared Diamond. By the authors of the international bestseller Why Nations Fail, based on decades of research, this powerful new big-picture framework explains how some countries develop towards and provide liberty while others fall to despotism, anarchy or asphyxiating norms - and explains how liberty can thrive despite new threats. Liberty is hardly the 'natural' order of things; usually states have been either too weak to protect individuals or too strong for people to protect themselves from despotism. There is also a happy Western myth that where liberty exists, it's a steady state, arrived at by 'enlightenment'. But liberty emerges only when a delicate and incessant balance is struck between state and society - between elites and citizens. This struggle becomes self-reinforcing, inducing both state and society to develop a richer array of capacities, thus affecting the peacefulness of societies, the success of economies and how people experience their daily lives. Explaining this new framework through compelling stories from around the world, in history and from today - and through a single diagram on which the development of any state can be plotted - this masterpiece helps us understand the past and present, and analyse the future.