I wanted to write another book. The previous two were regularly described as "fun" and "funny," but this one would be based around the ideas of Gene Sharp, the Boston-based academic once described as the "Clausewitz of non-violence." (Are you still with me? Hang in there for a second.)
Sharp's work inspired and underpinned the wave of peaceful revolutions that swept across Eastern and Central Europe in the late '80s. More recently, it helped to inspire the Arab Spring.
For a long time, I thought my book might be called 198 Ways to Bring Down a Dictator without Violence. But that wasn't to be.
I want to be very clear: I'm a huge fan of Sharp, whom I've had the privilege to meet. But I didn't get very far with my book idea. And perhaps that's because I don't personally want to bring down any dictators.
To say this is not to say that I think dictators are great or support them in any way. I know there are plenty out there, some of them real stinkers, but the truth is that they're far away from me and ...