Historian, Educator, and Commentator

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She writes frequently for CNN and other news and analysis sites on fascism, authoritarian leaders, propaganda, and threats to democracy around the world and how to counter them.

Her new book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (W.W. Norton & Company) is the first study to place President Donald Trump in the context of a century of authoritarian leaders that use a playbook of corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Strongmen - Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Available NOV 10, 2020 FROM W.W. NORTON & CO.


Mussolini To The Present

Ours is the age of the strongman, of heads of state who damage or destroy democracy, use masculinity as a tool of political legitimacy, and promise law and order rule – and then legitimize lawless behavior by financial, sexual, and other predators. Covering a century of tyranny, this book examines how authoritarians use propaganda, virility, corruption, and violence to stay in power, and how they can be opposed.

The New York Times has selected STRONGMEN as one of its “books to watch for in November.”

Interviews & Appearances

CNN International

Al Jazeera Up Front

PBS, The Dictator’s Playbook



  • February 12, 2021
    Virtual Talk: “Reflections on the 2020 Election” Virtual Event
    Ruth in conversation with Steve Hahn and Michele Mitchell
    Register: NYU Department of History, 12:30-2PM EST
  • January 15, 2021
    “Defending Democracy: The Global Rise of Autocracy in the U.S., Europe & Elsewhere”
    Museum of Jewish Heritage. Moderated by Dr Klaus Larres (Krasno professor, UNC-Chapel Hill)
    Watch video
  • October 27, 2020
    Strongmen: Mussolini To The Present
    Museum of Jewish Heritage. Moderated by Jason Stanley, Yale University
    Watch video

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