Restoring Democracy in an Age of Populists and Pestilence

By (author): Jonathan Manthorpe

“This global affairs veteran has carved out a solid, mature path, including for ‘flawed democracies’ like the U.S. We’d all be wise to follow.” — Vancouver Sun

From the author of the Claws of the Panda, a Globe and Mail bestseller, Restoring Democracy is quite literally a book for our times.

Jonathan Manthorpe argues that democracy is more resilient than it appears, and is capable of overcoming the attacks from within and without that have sapped its vigour since the end of the Cold War. He begins with a description of the events of 1989, one of the seminal years in modern history. This saw the end of the Cold War, and the apparent conclusive victory of democracy and its civic values.

But the view of these changes as a triumph of democracy — as summed up in Francis Fukuyama’s essay “The End of History” — was short-lived. Russia, shorn of its Soviet empire, and the Chinese Communist Party, re-examining its survival after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, began devising ways to counter-attack the West’s triumphalism and these met with considerable success.

Internal pressures and contradictions — wealth disparity being chief among them — threaten the survival of many democratic systems. Abandoned industrial workers turn to the repeated platitudes designed to appeal to those left behind without actually offering them the ways and means to catch up. Immigrants, refugees, and the reformist fixations of isolated liberal elites have provided ammunition for would-be despots.

Adding to the pressures building on the political norms of our democracies, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic and social stand-still for which no country is prepared.


Jonathan Manthorpe

Jonathan Manthorpe is the author of three books on international relations, politics, and history, including the national bestseller and Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of 2019, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada. His previous books include Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan and The Power and the Tories: Ontario Politics 1943 to the Present. In recent years he has written columns for a wide variety of publications in Canada and overseas. Over his fifty-year career as a journalist, he has been the foreign correspondent in Asia, Africa, and Europe for Southam News, the European Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, and the national reporter for The Globe and Mail. In 1981 and 1982, Manthorpe was an advisor in London to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on the patriation of the Canadian constitution. For the last few years, he has been based in Victoria, British Columbia.


“This global affairs veteran has carved out a solid, mature path, including for ‘flawed democracies’ like the U.S. We’d all be wise to follow.”

“[Restoring Democracy] couldn’t be more current, more prescient.”

– Pamela Wallin

“[Restoring Democracy in an Age of Populists and Pestilence] is an extraordinary feat of endurance journalism born from years of watching democratic facades crack, and made even more urgent by the threat of COVID-19, which [Manthorpe] describes as a new ‘central player’ in democracy’s larger story.”

– Marlo Alexandra Burks

“Manthorpe has done an excellent job of detailing the problems, and pointing to some hopeful directions, all written with the clarity, severity and authority of an excellent journalist.”
– Robin Sears


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320 Pages
9in * 6in * 0.75in


August 29, 2020

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Cormorant Books



9781770865839 – EPUB

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