Historian, Educator, and Commentator

Ruth Ben-GhiatRuth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She writes about fascism, authoritarianism, propaganda, and democracy protection. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and other fellowships, an advisor to Protect Democracy, and an MSNBC opinion columnist. She appears frequently on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and other networks.

Her latest book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (2020; paperback with a new epilogue, 2021), examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century.

She is also a consultant for businesses, civil society organizations, and television and film productions, including Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning 2022 movie Pinocchio and the 2024 Netflix docuseries Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial.

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Strongmen - Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Now Available in paperback, with a new epilogue about Jan 6th.


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.

LIMITED TIME: Strongmen Audiobook Discount

Get the audiobook version of Strongmen at 60% off the regular price.
This discount is good through June 30, 2024.  Get your copy today.

Recent Articles

Violence is Trump's Brand

Lucid, June 3, 2024

How unsurprising that former president Donald Trump showed up at a gun store in South Carolina and declared that he wanted to buy a gun, specifically, a customized “Trump 45.” Glock. Since 2015, his political project has centered on cultivating extremists…

"Americans' Denial About Trump is Deeper Than Ever,"

MSNBC, May 26, 2024

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who incited a violent insurrection in January 2021 to try and remain in office illegally after he lost the 2020 election, has been clear about what kind of president he intends to be if he returns to the White House in January 2025.

Hitler's End: A Study of Strongman Dysfunction

Lucid, April 30, 2024

We pay much attention these days to how dictators come to power, but understanding how they decline and exit –almost always involuntarily—and remembering the disasters they caused to their people and the world is equally important right now.

Trump’s Praise of Dictators Tells Us All We Need to Know

CNN, March 4, 2023

Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orban, Adolf Hitler, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un, Saddam Hussein: What do they have in common? All of these authoritarians have reportedly drawn praise from former US president — and now GOP presidential nominee — Donald Trump…

What the Authoritarian Playbook Tells Us About Netanyahu, Israel’s Strongman

Haaretz, August 14, 2023

Israel’s mass pro-democracy protest movement has given many Israelis hope. But their growing resistance is understood by strongmen leaders like Netanyahu as a betrayal that only hardens their will to prevail and their appetite for revenge.

Trump’s Humiliation of Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham is Straight out of the Authoritarian Playbook

MSNBC, Feb. 28 2024.

Authoritarian politicians are fragile and insecure creatures, always looking over their shoulders to see who is after them. To build themselves up and deter potential challengers, they take others down in public, letting them know exactly where they stand. 


The Weekend
MSNBC, May 26, 2024

Why are Republicans so Pro-Russia?
CNN, May 25, 2024

The Republican Party has no identity anymore beyond Donald Trump,
MSNBC, January 3, 2024

Trump needs lawless people for his planned autocracy.
MSNBC, Nov. 19, 2023

Chris Hayes, on Trump’s authoritarian language,
MSNBC, November 14, 2023

“The GOP as an Authoritarian Party”
MSNBC GOP Primary Debate, Aug 20, 2023