Public Affairs
Thursday, December 30, 7:00 pm

Public Affairs Book Group is no longer affiliated with Politics and Prose. The group still meets the 4th Monday each month at 7:00 p.m. For group meeting details please contact Marian Fielder at fieldermarian@gmail.com

 

 

STRONGMEN, by Ben Ghiat NOTE: Meeting Online

Public Affairs
Monday, July 24, 7:00 pm

Public Affairs Book Group meets the 4th Monday each month at 7:00 p.m. The book group is now meeting online--for details please contact judytaylor2011@gmail.com

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present By Ruth Ben-Ghiat Cover Image

Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (Paperback)

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What modern authoritarian leaders have in common (and how they can be stopped).


Ruth Ben-Ghiat is the expert on the "strongman" playbook employed by authoritarian demagogues from Mussolini to Putin—enabling her to predict with uncanny accuracy the recent experience in America and Europe. In Strongmen, she lays bare the blueprint these leaders have followed over the past 100 years, and empowers us to recognize, resist, and prevent their disastrous rule in the future.


For ours is the age of authoritarian rulers: self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy. They promise law and order, then legitimize lawbreaking by financial, sexual, and other predators.


They use masculinity as a symbol of strength and a political weapon. Taking what you want, and getting away with it, becomes proof of male authority. They use propaganda, corruption, and violence to stay in power.


Vladimir Putin and Mobutu Sese Seko’s kleptocracies, Augusto Pinochet’s torture sites, Benito Mussolini and Muammar Gaddafi’s systems of sexual exploitation, and Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump’s relentless misinformation: all show how authoritarian rule, far from ensuring stability, is marked by destructive chaos.


No other type of leader is so transparent about prioritizing self-interest over the public good. As one country after another has discovered, the strongman is at his worst when true guidance is most needed by his country.


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 another as he is unable to do—can we stop him, now and in the future.



Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an internationally acclaimed historian, speaker, and political commentator for the Atlantic, CNN, the Washington Post, and other publications. She is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University and lives in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9780393868418
ISBN-10: 0393868419
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 5th, 2021
Pages: 400
Language: English
A timely analysis of how a certain kind of charisma delivers political disaster.
— Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny

Everyone who cares about American democracy should read this book.
— Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding in Plain Sight

What separates this book from the many others that examine tyrants and tyranny—is the analysis that puts this phenomenon in perspective.
— David M. Shribman - Boston Globe

Simultaneously intimate and sweeping in scope.…Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s clear prose rings with a rhythm and cadence that today’s nonfiction too often lacks.
— Sarah Chayes, author of On Corruption in America and Thieves of State

Ruth Ben-Ghiat…specializes in male menace.
— Jon Blitzer - The New Yorker

For the reader inured by the drip-drip-drip of stories of brazen corruption over the course of years, it is bracing to see a half-decade’s worth of reporting so carefully distilled.…Ben-Ghiat does not shy away from revealing America’s role in enabling dictatorships around the world.…It’s a chilling current through the book and one that pricks the conscience of a reader.
— Talia Lavin - Washington Post

Ruth Ben-Ghiat delivers a superb examination of how close the US came to fascism—and how it has propped it up before.
— Charles Kaiser - Guardian

Ben-Ghiat's portrayal of fascist-era tyrants, murderous Cold War dictators, and would-be tyrants in our own day gives us a gripping and illuminating picture of how strongmen have deployed violence, seduction, and corruption. History, she shows, offers clear lessons not only about how these regimes are built, but also how they must be opposed, and how they end.
— Daniel Ziblatt, co-author of How Democracies Die

A surpassingly brilliant public intellectual.
— Virginia Heffernan - Slate Trumpcast

Ben-Ghiat teaches us about the leaders.…[She] cogently states that the secret of the strongman is that he needs the crowds much more than they need him.
— Federico Finchelstein - New Republic

Rich in anecdote.…Ms. Ben-Ghiat is at her most persuasive when she writes of the importance of the strongman’s cult of personality.
— Tunku Varadarajan - Wall Street Journal

Deep insight and a vigorous style…[A] brilliant contribution to the political psychology of democracy.
— Joy Connolly, president of the American Council of Learned Societies

POWER WORSHIPPERS, by Stewart NOTE: Meeting Online

Public Affairs
Monday, June 26, 7:00 pm

Public Affairs Book Group meets the 4th Monday each month at 7 p.m. The book group meets online--for details please contact judytaylor2011@gmail.com

The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism By Katherine Stewart Cover Image

The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (Paperback)

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The inspiration for the documentary God & Country

For readers of Democracy in Chains and Dark Money, a revelatory investigation of the Religious Right's rise to political power.

For too long the Religious Right has masqueraded as a social movement preoccupied with a number of cultural issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In her deeply reported investigation, Katherine Stewart reveals a disturbing truth: this is a political movement that seeks to gain power and to impose its vision on all of society. America's religious nationalists aren't just fighting a culture war, they are waging a political war on the norms and institutions of American democracy.

Stewart pulls back the curtain on the inner workings and leading personalities of a movement that has turned religion into a tool for domination. She exposes a dense network of think tanks, advocacy groups, and pastoral organizations embedded in a rapidly expanding community of international alliances and united not by any central command but by a shared, anti-democratic vision and a common will to power. She follows the money that fuels this movement, tracing much of it to a cadre of super-wealthy, ultraconservative donors and family foundations. She shows that today's Christian nationalism is the fruit of a longstanding antidemocratic, reactionary strain of American thought that draws on some of the most troubling episodes in America's past. It forms common cause with a globe-spanning movement that seeks to destroy liberal democracy and replace it with nationalist, theocratic and autocratic forms of government around the world. Religious nationalism is far more organized and better funded than most people realize. It seeks to control all aspects of government and society. Its successes have been stunning, and its influence now extends to every aspect of American life, from the White House to state capitols, from our schools to our hospitals.

The Power Worshippers is a brilliantly reported book of warning and a wake-up call. Stewart's probing examination demands that Christian nationalism be taken seriously as a significant threat to the American republic and our democratic freedoms.

Katherine Stewart is the author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. She writes about politics, policy, and religion for The New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, and The New Republic. Her previous book, The Good News Club, was an examination of the religious right and public education.
Product Details ISBN: 9781635577877
ISBN-10: 163557787X
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Pages: 352
Language: English

“Ambitious ... required reading for anyone who wants to map the continuing erosion of our already fragile wall between church and state.” —The Washington Post

“Both an examination of a new social and cultural phenomenon-and a call for action.” —The Boston Globe

“Chilling . . . Much of what Stewart recounts would seem incredible were it not presented through extensive quotations from speeches by, documents of, and conversations with movement leaders.” —Foreign Affairs

“With more than a decade of experience covering conservative Christianity, Stewart is adept at conveying the gravity of its aims. She goes deeper than any facile culture-wars discourse, digging into the evangelical right's fervor to gain political power and privilege in the name of religious liberty.” —Texas Observer

“This is not a 'culture war.' It is a political war over the future of democracy. This is a bold claim, but one that Stewart backs up with deep reporting on the religious right's infrastructure.” —Linda Greenhouse, New York Review of Books

“Invaluable ... The Power Worshippers should be read by all Americans who believe in democracy and the separation of church and state.” —New York Journal of Books

“A truly informative and smooth read about a sprawling movement and the many ways it exercises power over the lives of all Americans.” —Democracy Journal

“Powerful and persuasive argument ... [illuminated] with an array of history and political reporting, effectively weaving a portrait of our current grim situation with the threads from the past.” —Daily Kos

“Bringing some clarity to the make-up of the Christian nationalist movement is just one of the myths Stewart busts in her upcoming book ... Equally important for us to understand is that this movement isn't simply about culture wars.” —Washington Monthly

“[Stewart is] a seasoned investigative journalist, weaving together historical analysis and on-the-ground reporting to create engaging narratives . . . offer[ing] a behind-the-scenes view of how an interconnected network of think tanks, advocacy groups, and pastoral organizations joined forces with global anti-democratic religious nationalists long before entities like Russia became players in the 2016 presidential election.” —The Humanist

“A must-read for those interested in the influence of religion on politics and the effects on our political institutions.” —Library Journal, starred review

“A timely and useful introduction to the single most organized force in American politics today ... demonstrates how the Christian nationalist movement has successfully redirected public resources to fund their own private religious initiatives, like the public financing of religious charter schools through tax breaks and grant programs.” —Baffler

“A comprehensive, chilling look at America's Christian nationalist movement.” —Publishers Weekly

“[The] thoroughly researched facts as she lays them out are hard to argue with . . . [an] undeniably powerful examination of the Christian right's political motives.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A more comprehensive, if still compact, journey through the labyrinth of interlocking organizations and personalities that form the ecosystem of a movement that embraces 'identity-based authoritarian rule over pluralistic, democratic processes,' and seeks to transform the U.S. to serve that vision.” —Shelf Awareness

“Eye-opening . . . We learn, here, from a committed deep researcher-years of devoted travel, interviews, reading-that this movement is a good deal more dedicated and scarily more ambitious than the rest of us have so far noticed.” —Sullivan County Democrat

“A fascinating x-ray into the political eco-system of religious conservatives who threaten the health of our democratic institutions.” —Julian E. Zelizer, author of THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW

“Read The Power Worshippers and you will understand why nothing is more important to the health of our common life than challenging the false moral narrative of religious nationalism.” —William J. Barber, II, President of Repairers of the Breach & Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“Katherine Stewart presents chilling evidence that millions of American churchgoers are being inflamed and exploited by a cynical, well-funded alliance of power seekers. Read The Power Worshippers to understand what the relentless political agitation against abortion and homosexuality has really achieved-and for whom.” —Nancy MacLean, author of DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS

“Employing a sharp investigative eye, Stewart connects the dots between radical theocratic groups that want to create an officially 'Christian nation' and extreme free-market libertarians who despise social programs for the poor, taxes and public institutions. After reading this book, you should be prepared to fight back like nothing less than our democracy is at stake – because it is.” —Rob Boston, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

“Katherine Stewart takes on the enormous task of revealing who exactly is pulling the levers of power in our communities, statehouses, and federal government. A must-read.” —Andrew Whitehead, author of TAKING AMERICA BACK FOR GOD

“We are faced with a religious movement that is fundamentally opposed to pluralism and has long-term plans to transform America into a Christian nation. An adept, highly readable and important work.” —Julie Ingersoll, author of BUILDING GOD'S KINGDOM

The Power Worshippers provides a detailed explanation of how the Religious Right has used its power to advance religion-based government in harmful ways.” —Justia

“Both [The Power Worshippers and Shadow Network] have done impressive archival and on-the-ground research. These books are two of the fullest accounts of Christian nationalism to date. . . . Together, they paint a multidimensional portrait of the politicization of Christian faith that has neither a single source nor a majority of support among American Christians, despite its disproportionate impact.” —Christian Century



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