It is easy to look at the world today and see nothing but a spiral of disorder, dysfunction, and decline. In this wonderfully engaging book, Tepperman—the managing editor of this magazine—tours the world looking for political success stories that cut against this gloomy outlook. The book identifies ten common but particularly difficult problems, including inequality, immigration, civil war, corruption, and political gridlock, and argues that they are “fixable” when leaders act boldly. For each problem, Tepperman finds a free-thinking and experimental leader (or leaders) who defied the odds and achieved success. In the early years of this century, for example, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil developed a ground-breaking poverty-fighting program, Bolsa Família, that gave small monthly grants to mothers to feed and educate their families. And for the past two decades, the democratic leaders of post-Suharto Indonesia have steered their country toward a moderate form of politics that has undercut Islamist radicalism. From his fascinating travelogue, Tepperman offers lessons for a world in trouble: leaders need to think outside the box, embrace the possibilities that crises present, and respect systems of checks and balances. The pragmatic reform tradition that the book illuminates is apparently still alive.
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