The Invention of Power: Popes, Kings, and the Birth of the West

  • 01 Feb 2022
  • 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Online


The Invention of Power: Popes, Kings, and the Birth of the West

Virtual Book Discussion with Author Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Following the success of his last book, The Dictator’s Handbook, and the author’s unique flair of bringing in different perspectives, Bruce examines why and how the West became the world’s most powerful civilization. Drawing on his years of teaching political science at NYU, and copious research, Bruce discusses how a rarely examined historical 12th century event, the Concordat of Worms, changed the course of history.

Bringing it to today, our discussion will consider how competition between church and state have led to stronger, more stable countries than where that has not been the case. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Bruce is a founder of Mesquita & Roundell, a consultancy that makes political and foreign policy forecasts based on game theory.

Complimentary Registration:



Tuesday, February 1, 2022

6 pm MST | 8 pm EST


Zoom Meeting

The link for this webinar will be included in your registration confirmation email.


Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Author

Silver Professor; Professor of Politics, New York University

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution since 1986, and a professor at New York University. He earned his B.A. from Queens College, and his M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Michigan. He serves as director for New York University’s Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy.

He is best known as one of the authors of selectorate theory. Selectorate theory, as described in his 2012 The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics (cowritten with Alastair Smith), seeks to explain the five rules that dictators must follow to remain in power, including the cultivation of a small winning coalition so as to keep their needs simple, keep replacements to step up when supporters depart, control the money, give lots of money to your friends but not so much that they can overthrow you, and never give your friends’ money to the people.

He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and president of the International Studies Association. He has been awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Memorial Award and a Karl Deutsch Award in International Relations and Peace Research.

About the Book

In the tradition of Why Nations Fail, this book solves one of the great puzzles of history: Why did the West become the most powerful civilization in the world?

Western exceptionalism—the idea that European civilizations are freer, wealthier, and less violent—is a widespread and powerful political idea. It has been a source of peace and prosperity in some societies, and of ethnic cleansing and havoc in others.

Yet in The Invention of Power, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita draws on his expertise in political maneuvering, deal-making, and game theory to present a revolutionary new theory of Western exceptionalism: that a single, rarely discussed event in the twelfth century changed the course of European and world history. By creating a compromise between churches and nation-states that, in effect, traded money for power and power for money, the 1122 Concordat of Worms incentivized economic growth, facilitated secularization, and improved the lot of the citizenry, all of which set European countries on a course for prosperity. In the centuries since, countries that have had a similar dynamic of competition between church and state have been consistently better off than those that have not.

The Invention of Power upends conventional thinking about European culture, religion, and race and presents a persuasive new vision of world history.

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