Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

by Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

by Ruth Ben-Ghiat


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What modern authoritarian leaders have in common (and how they can be stopped).

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is the expert on the "strongman" playbook employed by authoritarian demagogues from Mussolini to Putin—enabling her to predict with uncanny accuracy the recent experience in America and Europe. In Strongmen, she lays bare the blueprint these leaders have followed over the past 100 years, and empowers us to recognize, resist, and prevent their disastrous rule in the future.

For ours is the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy. They promise law and order, then legitimize lawbreaking by financial, sexual, and other predators.

They use masculinity as a symbol of strength and a political weapon. Taking what you want, and getting away with it, becomes proof of male authority. They use propaganda, corruption, and violence to stay in power.

Vladimir Putin and Mobutu Sese Seko’s kleptocracies, Augusto Pinochet’s torture sites, Benito Mussolini and Muammar Gaddafi’s systems of sexual exploitation, and Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump’s relentless misinformation: all show how authoritarian rule, far from ensuring stability, is marked by destructive chaos.

No other type of leader is so transparent about prioritizing self-interest over the public good. As one country after another has discovered, the strongman is at his worst when true guidance is most needed by his country.

Recounting the acts of solidarity and dignity that have undone strongmen over the past 100 years, Ben-Ghiat makes vividly clear that only by seeing the strongman for what he is—and by valuing one another as he is unable to do—can we stop him, now and in the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393868418
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/05/2021
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 7,100
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an internationally acclaimed historian, speaker, and political commentator for the Atlantic, CNN, the Washington Post, and other publications. She is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University and lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Protagonists xiii

Note on Terms and Language xvii

Introduction 1

Part I Getting to Power

1 Fascist Takeovers 19

2 Military Coups 35

3 New Authoritarian Ascents 48

Part II Tools of Rule

4 A Greater Nation 65

5 Propaganda 91

6 Virility 119

7 Corruption 141

8 Violence 165

Part III Losing Power

9 Resistance 193

10 Endings 221

Conclusion 247

Epilogue to the Paperback Edition 263

Abbreviations 273

Notes 275

Selected Bibliography 329

Index 351

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