• How to Prevent Coups d’état

    Counterbalancing and Regime Survival

    Cornell University Press, 2020

    Why are some rulers able to head off challenges to their rule from their own armed forces, while others are not? How to Prevent Coups d’état argues that part of the answer lies in the ways in which rulers organize and use their coercive institutions. Where rulers counterbalance the military with presidential guards, militarized police, and militia, efforts to oust them from power are less likely to succeed. At the same time, however, this strategy can generate resentment within the military that ends up provoking new coup attempts. Drawing on an original dataset of coercive institutions in 110 countries over a span of fifty years, as well as case studies of coup attempts in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, the book sheds light on whether and how rulers can make their regimes impervious to coups. It shows that while counterbalancing may prevent successful coup attempts, it is a risky strategy to pursue—and one that may weaken regimes in the long term.


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  • "Captivating and informative...should be a staple in any class on civil-military relations and read alongside classics including Eric Nordlinger’s Soldiers in Politics, Samuel Finer’s The Man on Horseback, and Samuel Huntington’s The Soldier and the State."

    "The contributions of this book are significant. It exemplifies the excellent work on civil-military relations produced by junior scholars in the past decade...The argument is thorough and nuanced and the quantitative and qualitative analyses rigorous and convincing."

    — Peter B. White, Auburn University, H-Diplo

    "Cogent and compellingly argued, her book shows us how a common tactic employed by autocrats...may help prevent, but may also at times encourage, conspiracies against the government. How to Prevent Coups d'État is a major contribution."

    —Risa Brooks, Marquette University, author of Shaping Strategy

    "Changed the discussion in national security and civilian-military relations, and not just among coup scholars...De Bruin has paved the way for a more empirically-grounded study of coup-proofing."

    —Emily VanMeter, The Strategy Bridge

    "Deserves to be read not only be academics and dictators, but by anyone interested in research on coups."

    Jerg Gutmann, University of Hamburg, Journal of Peace Research

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