Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Guest Author

Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She writes about fascism, authoritarianism, and propaganda— and the threats these present to democracies around the world. She is the author or editor of seven books, including Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema, which explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers, how Fascist regimes use propaganda to construct an alternate reality, and how culture anticipated the collapse of Mussolini’s regime.

Her most recent book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (2020; paperback, 2021), looks at how illiberal leaders use propaganda, corruption, violence, and machismo – and how they can be defeated. It was the first book to examine Trump in the perspective of 100 years of authoritarian history, and the first book to include masculinity as a tool of autocratic rule. In it, she predicted that if he lost the 2020 presidential election, he would not leave office quietly.

Her work has been recognized with Guggenheim, NEH, Fulbright, and other fellowships, a residency at the American Academy in Rome, and a 2023 Maggie and Dan Inouye Distinguished Chair of Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawai’i.
Ruth’s mission of civic education led her to found Lucid, a Substack newsletter on threats to democracy, in the wake of the Jan. 6 coup attempt. She advised the House Select Jan. 6 Committee and wrote a report on Donald Trump’s incitement of violence as an authoritarian strategy. And as an advisor to Protect Democracy, she was part of a 2019 Amicus Curiae brief in the context of PEN America’s lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attempts to stifle press freedoms.
Ruth is an MSNBC opinion columnist and frequently provides television commentary on that network. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe. She gives hundreds of interviews a year and also writes for CNNThe Economist, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic.
She has appeared in many documentaries about dictators and threats to democracy, such as How To Become a Tyrant, The Dictators’ Playbook, and Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump. She also serves as a historical consultant for film and television productions, including Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pinocchio. She is also on LinkedIn.

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