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Vanishing Coup

The Pattern of World History since 1310

Ivan Perkins

How did the Republic of Venice go 486 years without a single coup d’état or coup attempt? Is it the same force that has generated stability in Britain since 1746, in the United States since 1776, and in a growing number of nations around the world?

This thoughtful and engaging book offers the first extended analysis of coups, which have played a central role in world history and politics. Ivan Perkins draws on his extensive research on the history and inner workings of coups to explain how a small but growing number of nations have escaped chronic violence and built states with perpetually peaceful transfers of power. Readers will explore the rising coup-free zone, from the baroque system behind 486 years of stability in Venice to today’s heavy-handed but efficient regime in Singapore. Along the way, the author recounts some of history’s most gripping political intrigues: the spontaneous street uprising against King Tarquinius Superbus in Rome, the machinations of Bengali officials that launched the British Empire, and the fears that compelled General Pinochet to join a coup and become dictator of Chile.

Perkins examines in detail the first three coup-free states. He argues against the standard theory of stability, which holds that professional military officers are so thoroughly trained in ethics and civilian control that leading a coup would be unthinkable. Instead, he proposes a new and simpler interpretation: stability is founded not on ethics but on law. An impartial rule of law weakens personal loyalty relationships, especially within the political-military establishment, and inhibits grand criminal conspiracies. The book concludes with a new explanation for the “democratic peace” and shows why coup-free states form enduring alliances.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 374Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-2271-7 • Hardback • October 2013 • $83.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4422-2272-4 • eBook • October 2013 • $82.99 • (£54.95)
Ivan Perkins is assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, where he teaches law and international affairs.
Part I: Solid States
Chapter 1: The Coup-Free Zone
Chapter 2: The Most Serene Republic
Chapter 3: The Last British Revolutionary
Chapter 4: The Coup-Free State
Chapter 5: George Washington: The Anti-Napoleon

Part II: Interlude: Deep Background
Chapter 6: True Banana Republics
Chapter 7: Intoxicating Republican Moments

Part III: The International Arena
Chapter 8: Self-Interest, Stupidity, and Confusion
Chapter 9: A Brief History of Meddling
Chapter 10: The Neutrality Privilege
Chapter 11: Best Friends
Ivan Perkins has identified a momentous yet underappreciated development in human history and has assembled a vast amount of evidence and a coherent narrative around it. Vanishing Coup is a major contribution to history and political science and a fascinating read.
Steven Pinker, Harvard University; author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

By the end of the book . . . it is clear that Perkins’ overall thesis is sound and significant. . . .Vanishing Coup will make valuable reading for diplomats, scholars, or NGO leaders working in disputed areas. . . .Perkins . . . has identified an essential element to the remarkable peace that seems to have contributed to the cessation of the historical bellum omnium contra omnes in the last 50-150 years.
Global Policy

Perkins makes a significant contribution with this well-written and interesting book. Surveying a far broader range of historical circumstances than most scholars attempt, he arrives at sweeping conclusions relating to both international warfare and domestic violence. His emphasis on elements of political culture, notably rule of law and transparency, deserves a prominent place in discussions on how to preserve governments and foster peace.
Spencer Weart, author of Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another

To see the appendix mentioned in the book, please click here.