From Dictatorship to Democracy

A Conceptual Framework for Liberation

The revolutionary word-of-mouth phenomenon, available for the first time as a trade book—not “since Machiavelli has a book had such impact in shifting the balance of power” (The Times, London)

“Few Americans have heard of Dr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution—most notably [his] guide to toppling autocrats—have inspired dissidents around the world, including Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.” —The New York Times

Twenty-one years ago, at a friend’s request, a Massachusetts professor sketched out a blueprint for nonviolent resistance to repressive regimes. It would go on to be translated, photocopied, and handed from one activist to another, traveling from country to country across the globe: from Iran to Venezuela—where both countries consider Gene Sharp to be an enemy of the state—to Serbia; Afghanistan; Vietnam; the former Soviet Union; China; Nepal; and, more recently and notably, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, where it has served as a guiding light of the Arab Spring.

This short, pithy, inspiring, and extraordinarily clear guide to overthrowing a dictatorship by nonviolent means lists 198 specific methods to consider, depending on the circumstances: sit-ins, popular nonobedience, selective strikes, withdrawal of bank deposits, revenue refusal, walkouts, silence, and hunger strikes. From Dictatorship to Democracy is the remarkable work that has made the little-known Sharp into the world’s most effective and sought-after analyst of resistance to authoritarian regimes.


“For the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.”
The New York Times
“Hailed as the manual by those who conducted people-power coups in Eastern Europe, its contents were no secret in Iran. . . . Officials saw this summer’s unrest as the fruit of his strategies.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“The man who changed the world.”
The Boston Globe
“In June 2007, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez publicly accused Mr. Sharp of stirring unrest in Venezuela. . . . The target of all this intrigue and animosity is eighty years old and slightly stooped. He walks with a cane.”
The Wall Street Journal

News and Reviews

The New Press Remembers Gene Sharp

GENE SHARP (1928 - 2018)

Goodreads Reviews