The Right's Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators
by Jacob Heilbrunn
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add firstname.lastname@example.org as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 20 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2023
W. W. Norton & Company, Liveright
A leading observer of the right explains the long, disturbing history behind Donald Trump’s admiration for Vladimir Putin and Ron DeSantis’s veneration of Victor Orban.
Why is today’s Republican Party, which claims to be the defender of American values, so drawn to the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and the brazenly illiberal Victor Orban, who has crushed an independent judiciary and political dissent in Hungary? As Jacob Heilbrunn shows, the obvious affection conservatives display for foreign autocrats, though a striking and seemingly inexplicable fact of our current moment, dates to the First World War. Since that time, leading intellectuals, journalists, and politicians on the right have always been drawn to what they perceive as the impressive strength of authoritarians abroad—including Kaiser Wilhelm, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, and Augusto Pinochet—who offered models of how to fight back against liberalism and progressivism domestically. For decades, conservatives railed against communist fellow travelers in America, but have their own delusional history of apologetics.
In this fast-paced, often-droll account, Heilbrunn argues that dictator worship is a longstanding romantic impulse that fits firmly within the modern American political tradition—and shows what it means for us today.
About the Author: Jacob Heilbrunn is the editor of the National Interest and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and has written for the Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, and other outlets. He is the author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons.
"Trumpism is much bigger, we now know, than Donald Trump himself. But how did the movement come into being? Who are its true founders? And where may it be headed next? Jacob Heilbrunn, our foremost chronicler of the New Right, has the answers--and they are as chilling as they are surprising. America Last is a tour de force of historical investigation written with the verve of a first-rate political thriller." - Sam Tanenhaus, author of The Death of Conservatism
"Jacob Heilbrunn is Washington’s shrewdest and most perceptive neocon-trarian. He now trains his sight on the American Right’s historical bromancing of foreign dictators, a deplorable pageant currently featuring their pin-up, Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban, and his number one fanboy, Tucker Carlson. This is an important book, and a warning for what could lie ahead beginning on January 20, 2025." - Christopher Buckley, "No relation to the William F. Buckley, Jr mentioned on pages 218 and 220."
"In America Last, Jacob Heilbrunn examines the convoluted line of thinking that draws so many on the right to the illiberalism of Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin. Heilbrunn brings to this task a talent for illuminating the dark side—and a deep understanding—of his subject acquired over decades of editing such publications as the New Republic, the National Interest, and the Los Angeles Times. In one respect, America Last is an extension of Heilbrunn’s celebrated 2008 book, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, but, more importantly, America Last reveals how a key wing of the conservative movement has become, in effect, anti-American." - Thomas Edsall, author of The Point of No Return
"Jacob Heilbrunn's new book, America Last, is quite simply a must read. Heilbrunn shows that the dangerous love affairs between Donald Trump and the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are not just bizarre quirks of one man's personality but very much in keeping with a long and sorry tradition going back a century or more of mutual admiration between the American right and an array of foreign tyrants. This is history as revelation, and unfortunately it is all too relevant to understanding America's present-day politics." - Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker and co-author, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021
"Though they love to wrap themselves in the flag and boast of their patriotism, the ugly truth is that American conservatives have long valorized, and even sought to emulate, dictators and autocrats abroad, from Mussolini to Pinochet down to Viktor Orban today. In this elegantly written history of the right's infatuation with the forces of illiberalism and foes of democracy, Jacob Heilbrunn helps us grasp the full dimensions of the threat today's conservatives, and the political party that represents them, pose to achieving a more decent, humane, and democratic United States." - Matthew Sitman, co-host of the podcast Know Your Enemy