A Question of Order
India, Turkey, and the Return of Strongmen
What happens when a democratically elected leader evolves into an authoritarian ruler, limiting press freedom, civil liberties and religious and ethnic tolerance?
India and Turkey are two of the world’s biggest democracies—multi-ethnic nations that rose from their imperial past to be founded on the values of modernity. They have fair elections, open markets, and freedom of religion.
Yet this is an account of how the charismatic strongmen Narendra Modi, in India, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Turkey, used the power they had won as elected heads of state to push their countries toward authoritarian ways.
Journalist Basharat Peer knows only too well how the tyranny of the majority can exact a terrible human toll; it’s a story he told in Curfewed Night, his memoir of growing up in war-torn Kashmir. For this book, Peer spent a year and a half traveling across India and Turkey to bring us this timely, brave report from the front lines of democracy in peril, and to tell the stories of the men and women who have shown courage and endured great suffering because of their love of true democratic traditions.
Praise for A Question of Order:
“India is frequently described as the world’s largest democracy, thus leaving the impression that the country has nothing in common with a place like Turkey. In just the past year, the latter has weathered an attempted coup, a large-scale purging of key institutions by the ruling regime, and a president who seems increasingly unstable. But as Basharat Peer makes clear in his new book, A Question of Order: India, Turkey, and the Return of Strongmen, the two places have more similarities than you might think.” —Isaac Chotiner, Slate
“An impressive and sharply written book. Peer quotes Isaiah Berlin: 'Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.' Recent events in democracies of both East and West are stirring fears of destructive majoritarianism. Strongmen everywhere are rediscovering 'the art of converting citizens’ fears and insecurities into electoral support.' This timely book sounds an ominous warning.” —William Armstrong, Hürriyet Daily News
“Basharat Peer’s new book is impeccably timed. Amid all this loose talk of an authoritarian wave, an in-depth comparison of two oft-cited cases is welcome.” —Marc Edward Hoffman, Bookforum
“A knowledgeable journalist astutely delineates a troubling global move toward the right wing.” —Kirkus Reviews