Strongmen by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

I will be updating this book report soon to include some of the fascinating details historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat lays out in her playbook for dictators. In the meantime I highly recommend this insightful book to anyone interested in the historical parallels to the autocratic challenge we face today in the USA! USA!!!!

The author, in going back and forth in time between Mussolini, Pinochet, Putin, Saddam, Berlusconi, Bolsonaro, Franco, Hitler and company, presents the unaltered playbook that every one of these “strongmen” uses. It is uncanny how every one of them use exactly the same reality- bending techniques.

The Strongman playbook she lays out is remarkably consistent over the century it has been in use. Every one of these Law and Order Strongmen employs criminals and ambitious sociopaths to subvert the rule of law, intimidate and silence critics and favor and shield those who enable the dictator’s unchallengeable rule. Loyalty and personal use to the Strongman become the sole benchmarks for personalist rulers, like our most recent former president, when hiring henchmen.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat ends her book describing the essential weakness of the Strongman and the path citizens of conscience must take when facing the rise of a Strongman:

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