Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present

Ours is the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of resources and corroding or destroying democracy. Their mutual-admiration club also draws on models from the past. Vladimir Putin rehabilitates Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin, Donald Trump praises Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi, Jair Bolsonaro admires Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan invokes Adolf Hitler as the model of an efficient leader.


Ruth Ben-Ghiat covers a century of authoritarianism to explain why strongman rulers in Africa, Europe, and Latin America, drawing from a common playbook of machismo, propaganda, violence, and corruption, have found popular support even as they bring ruin to their countries. The fruit of decades of research, Strongmen gives readers insight into how such rulers think, who and what they depend on, and how they can be opposed.



Title:Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present
ISBN:9781324001546
Format Type:

    Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present Reviews

  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com.Watching real-life strongman moves while reading Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present from Ruth Ben-Ghiat is both surreal and chilling. But give...

  • Megan

    I promised to come back to this review, so here I am: I cannot think of a more important book to read right now, in 2021, even as every day takes us further into the new Biden administration. I picked...

  • Boudewijn

    In today's world the strongmen are back: heads of state who damage or destroy democracy rule Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Brazil. And even a lot of stable democracies see the rise of populist, who all ...

  • Paige McLoughlin

    The author divides the subject of authoritarian strongmen into three periods, The fascist dictators Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and others up to WWII, The cold war period of client dictators expedient ...

  • Rob Alexander

    Fascinating to see how authoritarian leaders take power, retain it, and eventually lose it. I rarely read books like this, and found myself repeatedly thinking, “Ah, that’s why!”All politicians ...

  • Mike

    4.5 stars. I had taken a much-needed break from reading books about Trump this year, but decided to give this one a shot because it seemed so timely...and it is. This is the first book I’ve read tha...

  • Steven Z.

    Recently I read Anne Applebaum’s book THE TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACY which laid out where the United States stood in a world that seems to trend toward autocratic rule. To say the least her thesis which ...

  • Lydia Wallace

    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 an...

  • Khris Sellin

    A study of authoritarian figures, from Mussolini to Trump. We see the pattern repeating itself over and over again. How can people be so blind to it? Why do they follow these "leaders" so willingly, w...

  • Denise

    This interesting and informative book compares and contrasts the rise to power, rule, and eventual fall (insofar as this has already occurred) of various authoritarian rulers of the 20th and 21st cent...