Review: One-man bandwagons

The ills of strongman politics are diagnosed sharply in this accessible overview – but a cure is nowhere to be found, says Natasha Lindstaedt

The World Today Published 27 May 2022 3 minute READ

Professor Natasha Lindstaedt

Deputy Dean of Education (Social Sciences), University of Essex

The Age of the Strongman: How the Cult of the Leader Threatens Democracy around the World
Gideon Rachman, Bodley Head, £20.00

For anyone reading the headlines, it should come as no surprise that democracy has regressed to where it was in 1989. The profound geopolitical and technological changes in the post-Cold World era have led to chaos, polarization, nationalist backlash and nostalgia for strong leadership in democracies. 

Countries such as Russia and China have provided a new model for leadership that has become frighteningly infectious – the strongman. 

Gideon Rachman charts this new era, offering an accessible overview of 14 examples, including Britain’s Boris Johnson, Donald Trump of the United States, Narendra Modi of India, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Xi Jinping of China and – the archetype – Vladmir Putin of Russia.

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