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


  • October 27, 2020:
    Strongmen: Mussolini To The Present
    Museum of Jewish Heritage. Moderated by Jason Stanley, Yale University
    Watch video
  • November 9, 2020:
    Entitled Men and Strongmen: Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Kate Manne Talk About Masculinity
    Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU, 5 PM
  • November 10, 2020:
    In conversation with Richard Shaffer
    World Affairs Council, Dallas/Fort Worth, 6-7 CT
  • November 16, 2020:
    In conversation with Peter. E. Gordon
    Harvard University.  Harvard Bookstore
  • November 17, 2020:
    In conversation with George Conway
    Politics & Prose Live!, 8-9 ET
  • November 19, 2020:
    In conversation with Mauro Canali,
    Casa italiana Zerilli-Marimò, NYU
  • December 2, 2020:
    In conversation with Virginia Heffernan, Trumpcast, LA Times.
    Town Hall Seattle
  • December 8, 2020
    Ruth in conversation with Federico Rampini, US Bureau Chief, La Repubblica. 
    Italian Cultural Institute, New York, NY
  • February 18, 2021
    Virtual Talk: “Real Strong Men: A Conversation about Fascism, Authoritarianism, and Coups,” with Mark Mazower
    Register: Columbia University Institute for Ideas & Imagination, 1PM EST

    On Social Media