Most people have probably never heard of this book, but I find it very insightful when looking at the idea of stability. Ian Bremmer (president of the Eurasia Group) explains his theory that stability can only come in one of two forms: either through dictatorial rule or democracy. By providing fascinating examples of countries along different points of his curve, Bremmer finds a simple way to show why democracy in general is a very sound political model. His use of North Korea, as an example of a stable state due to its military and communist leadership, illustrates the fragility of such governments.
My favorite chapter compares and contrasts Yugoslavia and South Africa. Both went through major political upheavals in the 1990s, yet only one was able to come out stable. South Africa weathered the first fully democratic elections in the country’s history peacefully and successfully. Yugoslavia devolved into bloody, violent, ethnic war and eventually broke up into five countries. Interestingly enough the effects of that era are still being seen; in that the Union of Serbia and Montenegro dissolved in 2006, and last year Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia as well.
While the book is political, it is also anecdotal and very easy to read. Bremmer’s style is easy to follow and very digestible. A great addition to any political junkie’s library, The J Curve provides a great set of ideas to examine why other countries have either succeeded or failed in the quest for stability. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with interests in international politics and comparative political systems.