Desperate, confused, bored and exhausted. These are all words that most of us could relate to when we think of modern-day politics. Have we lost the plot? According to Ece Temelkuran, a prominent critical political commentator, we most certainly have but we are not alone. In her ominously titled book How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship she weaves together personal experience of right-wing populism in her native Turkey and critical analysis of some of the main political mechanisms that she believes have rendered many of us useless. Whether you follow the left or right, or even despise both equally, Temelkuran gives us much to ponder. In her view, she says, “Populism is unfair to the human mind and our capacity for reasoning, I think we can do better than that.”

Taking aim at global media, right-wing populists and the privileged left alike, she frames the political struggle of our time as a game we have been caught up in. Her book is an attempt to help people decipher the rules, and offers thoughts on how as citizens we may wrestle back control of our respective countries…

One of the things you feel when an autocrat takes over your country is you start losing your faith in humankind.”

Journalism in general on a global level forgot its fundamental duty, which is to speak in the name of or for the powerless.”

Ece Temelkuran is one of Turkey’s best-known novelists and political commentators, and her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, the New Statesman and Der Spiegel. She has been twice recognised as Turkey’s most-read political columnist, and twice rated as one of the ten most influential people in social media (with almost 3 million Twitter followers). Her recent novel Women Who Blow on Knots won the 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award.

How To Lose a Country is published by Fourth Estate in hardback, eBook and audio download.
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Katherine Nathan is Executive Creative Director & CEO at RATCHET, and video content editor at Bookanista.