Some of the world’s deadliest countries are weak democracies plagued by internal violence: gang warfare, organized crime, state repressions, and ordinary homicide. These problems can seem intractable, and a function of weak states above all else. In fact, Rachel Kleinfeld argues in her new book A Savage Order, the story is more complicated—but there is also a viable path to recovery.

Drawing on original field research and historical lessons from Colombia, Sicily, the Republic of Georgia, and the American South, Kleinfeld explains how countries can “decivilize” and create conditions that normalize violence, as social trust frays and leaders embrace violent tactics to perpetuate their rule. She also shows how countries can overcome such legacies of violence, and restore broad-based social trust.

Rachel Kleinfeld is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and she joins Richard Aldous on the podcast this week to discuss the book. Be sure to tune in, and don’t forget to follow @aminterest and @RachelKleinfeld on Twitter.

This interview was originally published by the American Interest.