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Biblioasis Fall 2020

On Decline
Stagnation, Nostalgia, and Why Every Year is the Worst One Ever
By (author): Andrew Potter
Andrew Potter





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Aug 17, 2021
$14.95 CAD


7.75in x 4.5 x 0.56 in | 110 gr

Page Count:

112 pages
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Ethics and moral philosophy|Central / national / federal government policies

A Winnipeg Free Press Top Read of 2021

What if David Bowie really was holding the fabric of the universe together?

The death of David Bowie in January 2016 was a bad start to a year that got a lot worse: war in Syria, the Zika virus, terrorist attacks in Brussels and Nice, the Brexit vote—and the election of Donald Trump. The end-of-year wraps declared 2016 “the worst … ever.” Four even more troubling years later, the question of our apocalypse had devolved into a tired social media cliché. But when COVID-19 hit, journalist and professor of public policy Andrew Potter started to wonder: what if The End isn’t one big event, but a long series of smaller ones?

In On Decline, Potter surveys the current problems and likely future of Western civilization (spoiler: it’s not great). Economic stagnation and the slowing of scientific innovation. Falling birth rates and environmental degradation. The devastating effects of cultural nostalgia and the havoc wreaked by social media on public discourse. Most acutely, the various failures of Western governments in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the legacy of the Enlightenment and its virtues—reason, logic, science, evidence—has run its course, how and why has it happened? And where do we go from here?

  • The first title in a new series of short nonfiction books modeled after 18th century political pamphlets—compare with Penguin's Great Idea series, but instead of reprints, these are original essays, 20,000 to 35,000 words, by contemporary writers and thinkers about contemporary issues. 
  • The first titles respond specifically to the pandemic, but the series won't be limited to it and we plan to continue it beyond the current crisis (assuming the current crisis has a beyond)
  • On Decline is part comparative history, part philosophical inquiry, and part a critique of public policy failures exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Andrew Potter is associate professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy and former editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen. He is currently editing Policy for Pandemics (https://maxpolicy.substack.com/), a daily newsletter providing short, accessible briefings on as many of the relevant policy challenges presented by COVID-19 as possible.

Andrew Potter is an associate professor (professional) at the Max Bell School of Public Policy. A former journalist, between 2011 and 2016 Andrew Potter was managing editor and then editor in chief of the Ottawa Citizen, and from 2006 to 2011 he was a public affairs columnist for Maclean’s Magazine. He is also a former Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. Potter is the author of The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves, and the co-author, with Joseph Heath, of the best-selling book The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed.

For more information contact
[email protected]

Praise for On Decline

"Terse, direct, provocative"—Mark Abley, The Walrus

"Like its historic ancestors, On Decline deserves a wide general audience and should be required reading for the incoming federal government." Winnipeg Free Press

Praise for Andrew Potter’s The Authenticity Hoax

“Potter’s broad-ranging survey makes a good case that the authenticist fantasy is deeply embedded in the culture.”—Wall Street Journal

“[Andrew Potter] offers a shrewd and lively discussion peppered with pop culture references and a stimulating reappraisal of the romantic strain in modern life.”—Publishers Weekly

“Potter weaves elements of history, philosophy and pop culture together in a book that will leave an impression even if it doesn’t necessarily show us the path. Is Andrew Potter one of the great thinkers of our age? He may well be: this is great stuff.”—January Magazine

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Also Available

Book Cover
The Authenticity Hoax Andrew Potter 9780061251351 $0.00 CAD May 03, 2011

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