Review of Ruth Ben Ghiat's Strongmen



Since the day in 2015 when Donald Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator and started blaming "Mexican rapists" for national problems--and then sent his ex-N.Y.P.D. private-security goon onto Fifth Avenue to beat those who protested--people have been comparing him to Adolf Hitler. And in the more than five years since Trump launched his appeal to white identity, the Trump-Hitler comparisons have only grown louder and more common, from social-media memes to op-eds.

They are not wrong: one can simply go back and watch his rally performances in black and white with the sound down to be reminded of 1930s Germany. But, critical as it is of the president, the mainstream media has been reluctant to go full-on Adolf when covering Trump.

Now comes New York University historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat with a convincing, scary, and very readable book making the case for Trump as not Hitler exactly, but as an American of the same ilk, a member of a small group of malignant men (and they are all men--that's part of the point) that, in addition to Hitler, includes Italy's Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi, Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Chile's Augusto Pinochet, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hungary's Viktor Orbán--and now Trump

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