Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an award-winning historian, author, and political commentator on fascism, authoritarian leadership, propaganda, and threats to democracy past and present. In her regular columns for CNN.com and the Washington Post, and on radio, podcasts, and television, she offers historically informed analyses of current events and images that make the news. Her look at Trump and Putin’s body language during their Helsinki summit was one of CNN’s 2018’s most popular essays of 2018. Read her piece for The New Republic on new Brazilian President Jari Bolsonaro, and look for her on PBS (January 23 2019 at 10pm EST) speaking about Mussolini for the “Dictator’s Playbook” series.
She’s a clear communicator of complex ideas to public, corporate, and academic audiences on topics such as “How Strongmen Think – and How to Oppose Them,” “The Global Right’s Endgame,” and “Propaganda and Personality Cults: How They Work.”
Media and Speaking inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She has received Guggenheim and other fellowships for her work on fascism, war, and visual propaganda. In Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema, she looks at what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold and why they appealed to so many. Her New Yorker article on the normalization of Fascist monuments at a time of resurgent right-wing politics in Italy prompted a national debate about how to consider fascism’s heritage today. Her 2016 CNN essay arguing that women should register for Selective Service is part of the United States Army’s curriculum.
In 2016 and early 2017, she predicted that Trump would imitate Putin’s personality cult and follow the authoritarian playbook including using shock events to disorient the public. In The Atlantic she foresaw the Trump-GOP authoritarian-enabler relationship. She’s analyzed Trump’s language games (his use of Twitter, trial balloons and threatening speech) and their relationship to right-wing violence and has advised how to push back against his propaganda machine.
Read her latest quotes and interviews in The New York Times Business Insider CNN The Guardian Think Progress and the Washington Post (on Mussolini’s legacy in Italy, hate speech, the US-European Right alliance, and Trump’s authoritarian inclinations)
Listen to her History Hit podcast with Dan Snow on Mussolini and his inheritors, her Intercepted podcast with Jeremy Scahill on Trump’s authoritarian intentions, and her domestic and foreign policy analyses of strongmen leaders on KPFK and KCRW.
Watch her on RAI (for Italian speakers) talking about Fascist imperial propaganda, and in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, talking about how demagogues use and persecute the media.
An advisor to Protect Democracy Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at NYU and will be a Visiting Scholar of the Center for Media at Risk at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School in spring 2019.