Strongmen: Trump / Modi / Erdoğan / Duterte / Putin


Publication Date:

November 2018



Original language and publisher

English | OR Books

Territories Handled

France, Netherlands, Scandinavia



Strongmen: Trump / Modi / Erdoğan / Duterte / Putin


  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, and Nordic rights.


And a politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear, and that kind of politics is now on the move . . . Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. In the West, you’ve got far-right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism . . . Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good? The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise . . . —Former President Barack Obama, delivering the Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Johannesburg in July 2018

Deserves a place on the shelves of schools, colleges, universities and public libraries in those countries who treasure their democratic heritages and who don’t want to see them destroyed. ColdType

Five noted writers and thinkers profile five of the world’s leaders. For some of us, these leaders are heroes; for others, villains; for all of us―strongmen.

We’re edging towards a new kind of global fascism driven by aggression and strident nationalism. In this energetic, focused book, a group of five accomplished writers confronts five would-be dictators.

  • American playwright Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) burrows beneath the skin of Donald Trump.
  • Danish Husain, Indian storyteller and actor, finds himself recounting the story not only of Indian
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also of the ascension of the extremism of the Sangh Parivar.
  • Burhan Sönmez, Turkish novelist, ferrets about amidst the bewildering career of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
  • Lara Vapnyar, Russian-American novelist and journalist, ponders the Stalinist origins of the Supreme Leader of All the Russias.
  • Ninotchka Rosca, Filipina feminist novelist, unravels the macho world of Rodrigo Duterte.

These essays do not presume to be neutral. They are by partisan thinkers, magical writers, people who see not only the monsters but also a future beyond the ghouls. A future that is necessary. The present is too painful.

About the editor and contributors:

Vijay Prashad is the executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Darker Nations: A Biography of the Short-Lived Third World and The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. His most recent book is Red Star Over the Third World. He writes regularly for FrontlineThe HinduAlternet and BirGun.

Eve Ensler is the Tony Award-winning playwright, activist, and author of the theatrical Obie Award winning phenomenon The Vagina Monologues, published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Ensler is founder of V-Day, the 20-year-old global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Her new play The Fruit Trilogy opens in 2018 with the Abingdon Theatre Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Danish Husain is an actor, poet, storyteller, and theater director. He has appeared in a number of films, including Peepli Live (2010), AnkhonDekhi (2013), Newton (2017).

Lara Vapnyar came to the U.S. from Russia in 1994. She is the author of the novels Scent of Pine(Simon and Schuster), Memoirs of a Muse (Pantheon), and Still Here (Hogarth) and two collections of short stories. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesVogueHarper’s, and The New Republic.

Burhan Sönmez is a novelist, editor, and the translator of William Blake into Turkish. In April 2018 he was the awarded the first European Bank Prize for Literature for his novel Istanbul Istanbul (OR Books). A board member of PEN International, he also won the Disturbing the Peace Award from the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation in 2017.

Ninotchka Rosca is a novelist and journalist. Her two novels—State of War (1988) and Twice Blessed(1992)—are considered classics of modern Philippine literature. She co-wrote Jose Maria Sison’s At Home in the World, a book about the founding chairman of the re-established Communist Party of the Philippines.