by David Pepper



by David Pepper


Laboratories of Autocracy walked through the hidden breadth, depth, and intensity of the countrywide attack on democracy. The final chapters outlined thirty steps necessary to fight back. One of the most common responses from readers was—“I skipped to the end. I wanted to get to the solutions.”

Saving Democracy is the companion book that skips to the end:

  • It details how we all can and must play a role in saving democracy at this fraught time.
  • It explains how all levels of the pro-democracy side, from national political leaders to grassroots activists to everyday Americans, must switch to offense.
  • It explains how to stay on offense and win on offense. Immediately, and everywhere.

But it doesn’t do this at 30,000 feet.

It’s a user’s manual, intended to spur action. Your action. After a quick review of the true battle for democracy we are engaged in, each chapter explains how YOU, the reader, can and must play the leading role in lifting democracy. It details the concrete steps individuals and groups can take where you live, lists resources that can help along the way, and offers case studies and best practices that have worked elsewhere.

Saving Democracy is structured to challenge and guide each reader—no matter your role in your community or politics or where you work—on how you each can play a more active and effective role in lifting democracy than you might have imagined. Over the course of the book, you will construct your own personal plan to fight for democracy. And when you’re finished, you’ll be ready to get to work.


David Pepper is a lawyer, writer, political activist, former elected official, and adjunct professor, and served as the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party between 2015 and 2021.

In that role, he was engaged in numerous fights and extensive litigation over voter suppression and election laws in the Buckeye State. Stemming from that work, David appeared in “All In”—the documentary highlighting Stacey Abrams’ nation-wide fight for voting rights.

In addition to Laboratories of Autocracy and Saving Democracy, Pepper has written four novels that bridge real-world politics and fiction—including A Simple Choice (Putnam, June 2022). His first novel, The People’s House, earned praise for having “predicted the Russia scandal.” The Wall Street Journal named Pepper “one of the best political-thriller writers on the scene.”

Born and raised in Cincinnati, David is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian. David earned his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and later earned his J.D. from Yale Law School.

David finished first out of 26 candidates in his first run for political office, and served on Cincinnati City Council from 2001-2005. In 2006, he flipped Hamilton County blue for the first time in 40 years when he ousted the incumbent commissioner; he then served on the Commission from 2007-2010, including as its president in 2009-2010. David was the Democratic candidate for Ohio Auditor in 2010 and Ohio Attorney General in 2014. He was elected chair of the Ohio Democratic Party in December 2014.

In 1999, David clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After 2000, David also worked in the Cincinnati offices of major law firms Squire Sanders and Blank Rome, focusing his practice on commercial and business litigation, and appellate litigation. David also teaches election and voting rights law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Between his undergraduate and law school years, David spent three years doing international work in St. Petersburg, Russia. Based out of the Center for Strategic and International Studies—a Washington D.C. think tank—he served as a research intern for Zbigniew Brzezinski for part of 1993, followed by several years as the assistant director of a project providing technical assistance to the City of St. Petersburg as it underwent economic reform. In that role, David interacted with international figures such as Henry Kissinger, Paul Bremer, ambassadors, members of Congress, business leaders, and Vladimir Putin, who was then Vice Mayor of St. Petersburg.


“There’s a booming literature on the erosion of democracy in America, as well as around the world, but David Pepper’s book ‘Laboratories of Autocracy: A Wake-Up Call From Behind the Lines’ stands out as arguably the most important….”

– Salon Magazine

“Pepper.persuasively argues that the site of the most pernicious corruption and assaults on democracy is not where congressional Republicans roam. It’s in the statehouses, which Pepper calls the most corrosive danger America faces.”

– Washington Post

“Incredibly well-timed book.…..Pepper tells how state GOP-led moves on voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, and reproductive rights could erode the union from within. An important read.”

– Philadelphia Inquirer

“The long-term health of American democracy is in peril, to a degree far worse than people imagine. But not where most people are looking.”

– The Guardian