Iain Martin in conversation with the award-winning Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman about his new book The Age of the Strong Man: How the Cult of the Leader Threatens Democracy around the World.

From Putin, Trump, and Bolsonaro to Erdoğan, Orbán, and Xi, The Age of the Strong Man is an intimate look at the rise of strongman leaders around the world.

This is the most urgent political story of our time: authoritarian leaders have become a central feature of global politics. Since 2000, self-styled strongmen have risen to power in capitals as diverse as Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Brasilia, Budapest, Ankara, Riyadh, and Washington. These leaders are nationalists and social conservatives, with little tolerance for minorities, dissent, or the interests of foreigners. At home, they claim to be standing up for ordinary people against globalist elites; abroad, they posture as the embodiments of their nations.

And everywhere they go, they encourage a cult of personality. What’s more, these leaders are not just operating in authoritarian political systems but have begun to emerge in the heartlands of liberal democracy. Gideon Rachman has been in the same room with most of these strongmen and reported from their countries over a long journalistic career.

While others have tried to understand their rise individually, Rachman pays full attention to the widespread phenomenon and uncovers the complex and often surprising interaction among these leaders. In the process, he identifies the common themes in our local nightmares, finding global coherence in the chaos and offering a bold new paradigm for navigating our world.